News Flash – 26 June 2017

National News



Driverless metro trains to start operations from October

Driverless metro train getting ready at Mukundpur depot.



NEW DELHI: In just over three months, Delhiites will be able to travel in Delhi Metro’s first ‘driverless’ trains on the Magenta Line from Janakpuri West to Botanical Garden. The Magenta Line, which missed its June deadline and is going to miss its September deadline too, is going to be thrown partially open to the public in October this year, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said. Trial runs on two sections of the corridor of phase III, between Kalkaji and Botanical Garden (13 km) and Janakpuri West to Terminal 1 – IGI Airport Metro station (10 km) are in progress, a DMRC spokesperson said. “Both sections will be offered for safety inspection to CMRS (Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety) after successful signalling trials. The sections will be opened for public after all the clearances,” the spokesperson said. “This line is planned to be opened in stages between October 2017 and March 2018,” the spokesperson said. By March 2018, DMRC plans to complete the phase-III expansion of its network with the commissioning of not only the Magenta Line but the Pink Line (Majlis Park – Shiv Vihar) too. Last week, DMRC carried out the first trial run on the Pink Line between the Shakurpur and Mayapuri Metro stations. The Magenta and Pink Lines will be the first ones to have driverless trains. These trains have high levels of automation and run on the Unattended Train Operation (UTO) mode. While initially train operators will be present in the trains, gradually, DMRC will shift to the UTO mode.


“During the trials, the interface of the Metro train is being checked to ensure that there is no physical infringement with civil infrastructure during the movement of the train on the track and also testing of various subsystems of coaches shall be done,” the DMRC spokesperson said. “As the new signalling technology to be implemented on this corridor, the Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) will also undergo rigorous testing. The response of the train at different speeds, braking of the train and the interconnection with the Operations Control Centre (OCC) will also be monitored during the trials,” the spokesperson said. “The behaviour of the track system and the Over Head Electrification (OHE) will be checked repeatedly,” the spokesperson said. Trial runs between the Kalindi Kunj and Kalkaji Mandir section of the Magenta Line were started in August 2016, followed soon by trial runs between Botanical Garden and Kalkaji Mandir section. As the corridor will witness the first operations of driverless trains, DMRC is not taking any chances and rigorous trials are being carried out. The Magenta Line will not only connect west Delhi to Noida in under an hour through a direct corridor but also bring many south Delhi areas on the metro map. Thanks to interchange stations at Hauz Khas, Kalkaji Mandir and Botanical Garden, the Magenta Line would also considerably reduce the travel time between Gurgaon, Faridabad and Noida. At present, commuters have to change trains at Rajiv Chowk to travel between Gurgaon and Noida and at Central Secretariat to travel between Gurgaon and Faridabad.



Mumbai: Water level in lakes rises 5% in 24 hours



MUMBAI: Sunday’s rain brought good news from the catchment areas as quantum of water in lakes that supply water to Mumbai and its suburbs reached 22.63% of its useful content from 17.63% on Saturday. Sunday’s water content-3.27 lakh million litres-in the seven lakes was the best June-25 level in the last two years. On Saturday, the water stocks stood at 2.55 lakh million litres. Mumbai receives water from Tulsi, Vihar, Tansa, Upper Vaitarna, Middle Vaitarna, Bhatsa and Modak Sagar lakes. Tansa and Modak Sagar recorded over 250mm rain on Sunday. Tulsi and Vihar, which are inside the city, received lesser rainfall at 75mm and 88mm. Last year, on the same day, the quantum of water in the lakes was 94,304 million litres while in 2015, it was 3.14 lakh million litres. The water stocks need to be 14.47 lakh million litres by end of monsoon to suffice Mumbai’s needs for the year. “Lake levels are improving and the rise has been between 1-1.5m. We expect good rain over the next two days,” said deputy municipal commissioner Sudhir Naik.



ATM robbery took 30 seconds



NEW DELHI: Two days after an ATM was looted and a guard was shot at by two men in northwest Delhi’s Bhalswa Dairy, the police have recovered a CCTV footage that showed how the entire episode unfolded in merely 30 seconds. The police said two men wearing black helmets came on a black bike and stopped at a corner for five to 10 seconds before approaching the guard. As two men went inside to refill the machine, they came out of their hiding. The police said the accused fired at the guard twice when he declined to hand over two cash bags left with him. After one of the bullets hit the guard and he fell on the ground, the men started running towards their bike with around Rs 12 lakh. As passersby started rushing towards the ATM, one of the robbers fired in the air to scare them while the other started the bike. The duo then fled the spot.


The police took the guard to the hospital after a passerby made a PCR call. He is stable and has given his statement to the police. Based on the clues gathered from the footage, the police are trying to trace the accused, said a senior officer. He added that the duo had parked their bike strategically so that nobody could notice them. The police are trying to figure out if any insider had given a tip-off to the criminals and scanning the profiles of all current and former employees of the firm responsible for replenishing cash in ATMs. As the incident took place exactly a month after robbers cleaned out Rs 19 lakh from a vehicle carrying cash in Rohini, the police suspect that both robberies might have been committed by the same group.



Signal snag disrupts Metro’s Green Line for over an hour


BENGALURU: A week after the Green Line section of the Metro, connecting Sampige Road and Yelachenahalli, was thrown open to public, trains stopped running between the Jayanagar-Yelachenahalli stretch for a little over an hour due to signal failure. BMRC clarifies: “Due to a technical failure at Yelachennahalli at 2.15 pm and later at RV Road at 2.45 pm operations on the Green line were affected. Short loop operations were carried out only between RV Road to Nagasandra stations during this period. The faults were cleared and normal services restored on the full line from 3.20 pm. In order to clear the crowds at stations further short loop operations also were carried out between National College to Nagasandra and Sampige road to Yelachennahalli,” BMRC said in a release.



One-way rule, diversions to ease traffic flow on Eid


HYDERABAD: In connection with Eid-ul-Fitr prayers at the Mir Alam Tank Idgah and the Secunderabad Idgahone-way traffic regulation will be enforced on some routes either on Monday or Tuesday between 8am and 11.30am. Hyderabad traffic police said that vehicular traffic proceeding towards the Idgah Mir Alam Tank for prayers will be allowed via Puranapul, Kamatipura, Kishanbagh and Bahadurpura X Roads from 8am to 11.30am. During these three-and-half hours, general traffic will not be allowed to proceed towards Idgah from Bahadurpura X Roads and will be diverted towards Kishanbagh or Kamatipura. Cycle-rickshaws and cycles will not be allowed to proceed to the Idgah from the Idgah cross roads. They should be parked near the open space where stands are being provided. All vehicular traffic coming from Shivrampally, N.P.A., towards Idgah for prayers will be allowed and general traffic proceeding towards Bahadurpura X Roads will be diverted at Danamma Huts ‘T’ Junction towards Aliabad via Ansari road, Jahanuma, Boys Town School etc. Immediately, after the Idgah prayers, all fast-moving vehicles from Puranapul proceeding towards Idgah will be diverted towards City College road till the entire congregation disperses from the Idgah after their prayers. At Secunderabad idgah, all vehicular traffic coming from Brooke Bond Centre and from CTO X Roads will be diverted at Idgah X Roads towards Tadbun.



International News



149 killed, 117 injured as oil tanker explodes in Pakistan

Pak rescue workers gather beside an oil tanker which caught fire following an accident on a highway near the town of Ahmedpur East on June 25, 2017.



LAHORE: About 150 people were charred to death and 117 others injured on Sunday in a massive blaze that erupted after an oil tanker overturned and crowds rushed to collect the fuel that spilled over on a highway in Pakistan’s Punjab Province. The oil tanker coming from Karachi and headed to Lahore overturned early Sunday morning on the national highway at the Ahmedpur Sharqia area of the Bahawalpur district, some 400 km from Lahore, after a tyre burst. The fire was apparently caused by someone who lit a cigarette after people from nearby localities gathered on the highway to collect spilt petrol, officials said. The blaze from the oil spill engulfed scores of residents, killing 149 people and injuring 117 others, officials said. District Coordination Officer (DCO) Bahwalpur Rana Salim Afzal termed it a “huge tragedy” in the history of Pakistan. “At least 123 people were killed before getting any medical help while the rescue officials shifted more than 100 injured to the district headquarters hospital and Victoria Hospital in Bahawalpur where the condition of most of them is critical,” Afzal said, adding some 50,000 litres of petrol spilled from the oil tanker. Afzal said women and children were among the victims. The death toll later rose to 149 and rescue official Jam Sajjad said most of the dead bodies were completely charred and they will be identified only by DNA tests. Muhammad Hanif, 40, who suffered burns, told reporters at the Victoria Hospital that he was present at his house when his cousin called him informing that the village people were rushing to the highway to collect “free oil”.


“My cousin told me to pick bottles and come out of the house. When I came out of the house I saw many people rushing towards the highway and some going there by motorcycles. Me and my cousin Rashid reached the highway and joined the people busy in collecting the petrol spilling from the tanker. “Suddenly the tanker burst and the people gathered near it were burnt alive. Rashid and I were a little away from the tanker therefore we are alive,” Hanif said. He said it was “greed” of the villagers which took them to the “valley of death”. The Punjab government said three helicopters were shifting the critically burnt people to Multan’s combined military hospital and Nishter Hospital for providing better health facilities. Regional Police Officer Bahawalpur Raja Rifat said the motorway police personnel had reached the spot when the oil tanker overturned. “The people from nearby village Mauza Ramzan had also gathered there. The police personnel asked them to leave the place but they started collecting petrol. Suddenly the tanker exploded and within seconds the fire erupted giving no chance to the people present there to leave the place,” Rifat said. Dozens of motorcycles and cars were also burnt at the site.


“Most people reached the site on motorcycles to collect spilling petrol,” he said. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif directed the authorities to ensure best medical treatment to the injured. He also sent his chopper for shifting the injured to Multan hospitals. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussain, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhuttocondoled the tragedy. Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa ordered the Army to assist the civil administration in the rescue effort. Army helicopters have been deployed in the rescue operations. The tragedy came a day ahead of Eid ul-Fitr celebrations in the country, marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramzan. The oil tanker tragedy comes about two years after 62 people, including women and children, were killed in a fire after a coach collided with an oil tanker travelling on the wrong side of the road, on the outskirts of Karachi.



Thousands evacuated as 27 UK high-rise towers fail safety test

Residents are evacuated from the Burnham Tower residential block.



LONDON: Thousands of residents were on Saturday evacuated from four housing towers as the UK government in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Tower blaze found 27 high-rise residential blocks across Britain unsafe. Residents of 650 flats in four tower blocks on an estate in the Swiss Cottage area of north London were evacuated last night by the local Camden Council, following tests ordered in the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze on June 14, which claimed at least 79 lives and displaced hundreds others. The estates evacuated were found to have cladding similar to Grenfell Tower, which Scotland Yard confirmed as a factor for the fire spreading rapidly through the 24-storey building after a fridge-freezer burst in one of the flats. Local councils and housing authorities have been given until Monday to submit cladding samples for these tests to ensure the material used on the exterior of their residential blocks are not made up of similar flammable material as in the massive Grenfell Tower blaze in west London last week. The Metropolitan Police, which had launched a criminal investigation into the Grenfell Tower tragedy, has said that detectives are keeping open the option of bringing manslaughter charges relating to the Grenfell fire. Camden Council’s Labour party leader Georgia Gould said the council had acted “as swiftly as we possibly can” to ensure people’s safety after the fire service said they could not guarantee the residents’ safety in those blocks. “I know it’s difficult, but Grenfell changes everything and I just don’t believe we can take any risk with our residents’ safety and I have to put them first,” she said.


“I offered to pay for fire stations to be stationed outside all of those blocks so we could have a couple of days to get the work done but the message was there was absolutely nothing I could do to make those blocks safe that night,” she added. Refurbishment on the Chalcots Estate evacuated overnight was also overseen by Rydon, the company involved in the refit of Grenfell Tower, according to its website. A statement released by Downing Street on behalf of Prime Minister Theresa May said: “My thoughts are with residents being evacuated in Camden while their homes are made safe tonight. We will work with and support the emergency services and relevant authorities to safeguard the public”. Many residents have reacted with anger at being moved out of their homes and 83 have so far refused to leave their homes on the Chalcots Estate. The council has said that if people still choose to not leave their homes then it would “become a matter for the fire services”. Once the flats are evacuated, the external thermal cladding from five tower blocks on the Chalcots Estate will be removed. There were also concerns raised about the insulation of gas pipes going into flats, and fire doors. The council has secured 270 hotel rooms to house the residents. Emergency accommodation has also been set up at Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre and at the Camden Centre in King’s Cross nearby. “We’re encouraging all residents to stay with friends and family if they can, otherwise we’ll provide accommodation,” the council said. The work on the tower blocks is expected to take three to four weeks. Residents will be allowed into their flats at the weekend to collect more possessions under escort from the fire brigade.



15 killed, 120 missing as landslide buries mountain village in China

Rescue workers search for survivors at the site of a landslide that occurred in Xinmo Village.



BEIJING: At least 15 people were killed and over 100 others remained missing after a mountain village was today buried under tonnes of rocks following a massive landslide in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, the worst such disaster in the country in recent times. The early morning landslide, which came from a mountain in Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba, engulfed 62 homes and a hotel in Xinmo Village in Maoxian County. A side of a mountain collapsed following the landslide, blocking a 2km section of a river and burying 1,600 metres of road. The Maoxian government said on its Weibo social media account that 15 bodies were pulled from the rubble while 120 people remained missing. State media had earlier reported that 141 people may have been buried but later the figure was revised. The landslide was apparently triggered by a mild earthquake in the area, an expert told state-run CGTN. According to reports, the village which was built in a valley surrounded by mountains experienced one more landslide after the initial one in the morning. Nearly 2,000 rescuers, including soldiers, frantically scoured through the mud and rocks to find survivors. Armed police and experts in geology, hydrology and surveillance joined the rescue and risks assessment group with equipment including drones and laser scanners.


It is the biggest landslide in this area since the Wenchuan earthquake that killed 87,000 people in 2008 in a town in Sichuan. A family of three was pulled out alive from the rubble, the Mao County government said on its official Weibo page. The couple and their baby are being treated at the Mao County People’s Hospital, the post said. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have ordered all-out efforts to save people buried in the landslide. Xi has ordered the State Council, China’s Cabinet, to send a work team to the site. “Authorities must make maximum efforts to reduce casualties and prevent secondary disasters,” Xi said. The prime minister has ordered an investigation into the reason for the landslide. The provincial government has launched the highest level of disaster relief response and sent rescue teams to the site. Pictures posted by the People’s Daily newspaper showed bulldozers moving earth and large boulders as the rescue efforts continued. “In the entire village I could only see one home. The rest had been totally buried by rocks,” said a local official Li Yuanjun. Reports from the area said some people stuck under the mud and rock used mobile phones to call emergency lines. “A woman shouted and dozens of troopers heard her and asked her questions.



She could only use a stone to tap in response,” Wang Yongbo, a firefighter, told TV channels. Roads in the county were closed to all traffic except emergency services. Following the landslide, China upgraded its geological disaster alert to the second highest level. Local authorities have been asked to take extra precautions in rain-affected areas. China’s national weather observatory continued a yellow alert for rain today, with more heavy showers expected across the country in the next few days. Landslides are a regular danger in mountainous regions of China, especially during heavy rains. In 2008, 87,000 people were killed when an earthquake struck Wenchuan county in Sichuan province. In Maoxian county, 37 tourists were killed when their coach was buried in a landslide caused by the earthquake.



Strong earthquake injures 2, knocks off roof tiles in Japan

Fallen rocks block road after the earthquake



TOKYO: A strong earthquake shook residents on Sunday in a mountainous region of central Japan, injuring at least two people and knocking roof tiles off homes. The magnitude 5.6 quake struck about 7 AM at a shallow depth of 7 kilometers (4 miles) in Nagano prefecture, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The epicenter was about 190 kilometers (120 miles) west of Tokyo. The US Geological Survey measured the magnitude at 5.2. Authorities said two people had minor injuries. Japan’s NHK television said an 83-year-old woman in Otaki village was struck on the head by a falling object in her house, and a 60 -year-old woman in Kiso town was hit in the leg by a chest of drawers that fell over. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency reported multiple incidents of fallen roof tiles and broken glass. NHK showed a worker in Kiso picking up glass from a shattered show window at a Nissan car dealer. There was no danger of tsunami from the inland earthquake. The area is no stranger to disaster. A nearby volcano, Mount Ontake, erupted in 2014, killing about 60 people. Several people died when a stronger earthquake triggered landslides in the same area in 1984.

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