News Flash – 26 March 2018

National News



Road safety drive hit for lack of space to keep seized autos, taxis



MUMBAI: RTO officials have said that they have almost “no space left” to park seized illegal autos and taxis and those plying with rigged meters. The development does not augur well for the city’s commuters. In such a scenario, the errant drivers could have a free run as they will be served show-cause notices and may not even report to RTOs for fitness tests. Unfit vehicles could continue plying and not be scrapped. A senior official, who requested anonymity, told TOI: “The situation is alarming. We can detain one or two vehicles in our compound. But if there is a drive, we cannot confiscate many illegal autos or cabs without valid permits as there is no space to keep the vehicles”. Recently, the Mumbai police too had asked RTO not to park seized vehicles on the premises of police stations, he said. “We have no space on RTO premises where scores of vehicles including buses, trucks come for regular tests, inspections and we conduct driving tests for citizens. Where is the space to keep any confiscated vehicles or illegal autorickshaw?” he asked. Rogue drivers are a menace on city roads, especially after midnight when maximum illegal autos operate as fewer police personnel and RTO staffers are present. It also poses a threat to the safety of women commuters travelling alone. Rogue drivers operate around long-distance train termini such as LTT, Bandra Terminus and Borivli, MSRTC stands, and the domestic and international airports, sources in the auto union said.


A deputy RTO said, “Unless you detain and scrap an illegal auto, there is no other way to remove it off roads.” He said that those driving autos illegally or without valid permits do not come to the RTO for mandatory fitness tests or road tests of meters. “If you issue the errant driver a show-cause notice, he will simply drive away and then throw the notice in the bin. We will not be able to locate him unless there is another RTO drive or a complaint from commuter,” he said. RTO officials have requested their seniors to help them resolve the crisis and make space availability for vehicles. “We should be given open plots belonging to other government departments for keeping the seized vehicles,” an RTO staffer said. The four RTOs in Mumbai are also searching for open space to set up 250-m brake testing tracks for commercial vehicles in accordance with the Bombay high court’s directives. The deadline is April 30, which is just a month away. “We plan to set up the first brake test in Panvel, where a sizeable area has been earmarked,” said a senior transport official. In the western suburbs, an open plot in Oshiwara is being considered for the brake tests.



Toddler killed, 7 hurt as fire breaks out in Chembur slums



MUMBAI: A 15-month-old girl died while seven others were injured in a blaze at a slum in Thakkar Bappa Colony in Chembur on Sunday afternoon. The deceased, Chandni, had suffered around 60% burns, said an official Officials from BMC’s disaster management cell said that one of the seven injured persons, Jagdish Jatoliya (45) had suffered, 70-80% burns and was critical. All the injured have been admitted to Rajawadi hospital in Ghatkopar. Of the injured, four are children. The Mumbai fire brigade received a fire call around 1pm and immediately sent two fire engines and one jumbo water tanker to the spot. Though the cause of blaze is yet to be established, officials said that a solution used for footwear repairs is likely to have caught fire. An official from the fire brigade said huge amount of combustible material was found on the premises and that it caused the fire to spread rapidly. “The injured probably did not find the time to escape,” he said. A doctor from Rajawadi hospital said, “The baby was critical from the time she was brought. One more patient is critical and we plan to shift him to Sion Hospital”.



Unaware of shift to T2, hundreds arrive at wrong IGI terminal on Day 1

Despite efforts by DIAL and the airlines to ensure a seamless transition, confusion prevailed as scores of passengers ended up at Terminal 1.



NEW DELHI: After many a hurdle, Terminal 2 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport finally became fully operational on Sunday with both IndiGo and SpiceJet partially shifting their operations from Terminal 1. Despite efforts by DIAL and the airlines to ensure a seamless transition, confusion prevailed as scores of passengers ended up at Terminal 1. This, despite large hoardings and banners having been placed on the way to the airport about the move as well as SMS alerts and calls to passengers. TOI did a ground check on the first day and found that most passengers who ended up at the wrong terminal had either not checked their tickets properly, or booked them well in advance, as a result of which T1 was mentioned on their tickets. Some simply said they were not aware of the move. Kamal Dulhani, a businessman taking an IndiGo flight to Visakhapatnam, said: “I didn’t know about the shift to T2 and there was no prior information about it. I was told that I need to take a shuttle to T2.” Vineesh Babu, who had to board a flight to Bangalore, said: “I got to know about the shift only when I reached the airport”. But help was at hand at T1 for Dulhani, Babu and several others like them in the form of airline staff members who were seen standing next to CISF personnel. A CISF officer said the confusion was kept to the minimum. An employee at the shuttle bus service counter said nearly 400 people had been ferried from T1 to T2 between 7am and 2pm alone. “People from outside Delhi faced the maximum problem.


Those who had booked their flights in advance had T1 mentioned on their tickets and, therefore, there was some confusion,” he said. Long queues could be seen outside T2 due to lower number of gates compared to T1. Both airlines confirmed that no flights were missed. “With 18 flights taking off from T2 in less than 12 hours, IndiGo recorded on-time departures of all its flights with zero ‘no-shows’. IndiGo worked with DIAL to ensure that the transition is seamless and all passengers flying from T2 are aptly made aware of the move,” an IndiGo statement said. Aditya Ghosh, president and whole-time director, IndiGo, said: “We are delighted to announce that the shift of our partial operations to Terminal 2 has gone off without a hitch. On day one, all our departures left either on time or before time without any no-shows”. SpiceJet, too, said that the transition was without hiccups. “There have been eight departures till now from T2 with more to follow in the evening and night. We have seen seamless operations and all flights have been on time. There has been excellent and coordinated teamwork by the SpiceJet ground staff,” a SpiceJet spokesperson said.



Delhi: Major fire breaks out in warehouse


NEW DELHI: A major fire broke out in a warehouse in Swaroop Nagar area in northwest Delhi. The fire started in the plastic waste lying in the backyard of the warehouse. Fire department officials said that at around 4pm they received the information following which 22 fire tenders were sent to the spot. The fire is yet to be brought under control and the nearby areas have been evacuated for safety purpose. According to ANI, fire which had broken out in a godown in Delhi’s Swaroop Nagar earlier on Saturday has been doused. A preliminary probe into the incident has revealed that the fire might have started due to a short circuit in the wires that caught spark and spread to the plastic and rubber items lying nearby. No casualties have been reported so far from the incident and the cooling operation is still underway.



Customers kick, damage cashless ATMs



BENGALURU: While banks may have been dismissive about their ATMs running dry, there have been increasing instances of cashless machines developing snags as frustrated customers land furious punches and kicks on the machines, as evident in CCTV footages. On Friday morning, a mechanic was seen fixing an ATM in northwest Bengaluru. He was accompanied by the cash loader and the gunman of a van belonging to a cash logistics firm. According to the logistics firm staff, in the area they operate, at least 20 ATMs have developed snags over the past week after angry customers kicked the machines on finding them empty. In a couple of places the display screens too were broken. “Such attacks end up damaging sensitive and vital parts of the ATM like card reader, display screen and cash dispenser,” they said, adding that. “This is the 13th machine I’ve repaired in the past eight days. All of them developed technical snags due to kicks landing on their front portion which has sensitive sensors connected to the motherboard. A machine won’t work even if one wire is disconnected,” the mechanic explained. The logistics firm employees said they take the mechanic wherever they go, as almost every day they have been coming across such damaged machines. “We have repaired machines in areas like Majestic, Chamarajpet, Goodshed Road, Dr Rajkumar Road, Yeshwantpur and surrounding areas. Most were damaged at night,” the staff said. However, bank officials blamed the ATM issues on ‘banking problems’ and refused to elaborate. “It’s a sensitive issue and we cannot comment on it. But cash flow from the head office to branches has fallen drastically,” a bank manager said.


Part bearing the brunt


* Cash dispenser: ‘Heart’ of an ATM is at the bottom and dispenses cash

* Cash chest: On an average, Rs 2 crore can be filled in it

* Display screen: Guides cardholder through transaction

* Card reader: Captures account information stored on magnetic stripe of a card



Gujarat reports 6 swine flu deaths, 36 cases this year


AHMEDABAD: Gujarat, which recorded the second-highest mortality due to swine flu in 2017 after Maharashtra, has already registered 36 cases and six deaths due to the H1N1 virus from January to March 4 this year. With 431 deaths in 2017, Gujarat was at the second worst spot in India, a notch better than Maharashtra where 778 swine flu deaths were reported. In 2017, Gujarat had reported 7,709 cases while Maharashtra had reported 6,144 cases, states a Union health ministry report. According to the report, 5.59% swine flu patients succumbed to the virus which was termed as ‘seasonal flu’ by the state. Last year too, Gujarat had started reporting swine flu cases in summer, but as awareness activities did not take off in the state, it resulted in a large number of deaths. This year too, any publicity campaign to curb swine flu is not yet visible and the civic body billboards are presenting glorious pictures of the achievements and schemes of either the state or the central government. Health department officials said that most of those who died this year had some contact in Rajasthan, the state which had reported 106 deaths till March 2018.


State health commissioner Jayanti Ravi said that the department has taken due care in following all medical protocol regarding the contagious disease. Gujarat had in 2009 witnessed 125 deaths and 697 cases of swine flu with mortality rate of 17.93%. In the same year, the then CM Narendra Modi was also diagnosed with H1N1 flu. The numbers increased to 1,682 cases and 363 deaths (21.58% of the cases) due to swine flu in the year 2010. In 2011, the number decreased to 7 cases but the mortality rate was as high as 57.14% with 4 deaths. Between 2012 and 2014, the state had reported 30, 196 swine flu cases and 55 deaths respectively. The state had registered the highest 517 deaths and 7,180 cases of swine flu in 2015. In the same year, junior health minister Shankar Chaudhary was also diagnosed with swine flu. In 2016, the state registered 411 cases and 55 deaths with mortality rate of 7.73%.



Rs 98 lakhs cash van robbery: City cops get ex-army man’s custody



AHMEDABAD: Mukesh Yadav alias Fauji, the alleged mastermind of the Rs 98 lakh robbery from a cash van, was arrested from Uttar Pradesh by Vastrapur police on Saturday. The cops have so far recovered Rs 63,000 from the accused. Earlier, the city crime branch had arrested the driver of the van, Sudhir Badhel. The cops had said at the time of Badhel’s arrest that the booty is with Yadav. “We have recovered the scooter which Yadav had bought a day after he reached his native place Etawa after the robbery. The scooter was bought from the looted money,” added a police official. Police plan to question both the accused together to bring out the truth about the cash. “Vastrapur police officials said Yadav will be produced at the bungalow of the magistrate on Sunday. We will soon trace the cash,” said a police official. Meanwhile, cops registered another FIR under sections of cheating and forgery against the accused Badhel, Vipin Yadav and Mukesh Yadav for forging identity documents while securing the job. Vipin Yadav is yet to be arrested. Baghel, Mukesh and Vipin had given their police verifications for October 4, March 7 and March 13 in 2017 respectively – which were shown issued by Chandkheda police station – to Max Vigil Securities.



International News



Tanzania traffic collision leaves at least 26 dead, 9 hurt



DODOMA: A police official in Tanzania says a truck and a minibus collided, killing at least 26 people and injuring nine others. The country’s traffic police commander, Fortunatus Musilimu, says the dead in Saturday night’s accident in the southern town of Mkuranga included 12 women and seven children. There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash. Road accidents are common in the East African nation, often the result of badly maintained roads and poor enforcement of traffic laws. Government statistics show that such accidents kill around 9,000 people annually. Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Sunday said he was saddened by the latest accident, adding that “I join the families at this time of tragedy and grief”.



Multiple casualties in suicide attack on Afghan Shiite mosque: Officials



HERAT: Two suicide attackers struck a Shiite mosque in Afghanistan on Sunday, killing at least one person and wounding eight others, officials said, in the latest assault against the Muslim minority. The men stormed the grounds of the mosque in the western city of Herat, but security guards shot dead one of them and the other blew himself up before reaching the hall where worshippers were praying, provincial governor spokesman Jilani Farhad told AFP. At least one worshipper was killed and eight others were wounded in the attack on Nabi Akram mosque, Farhad said, adding all the victims were civilians. The casualty toll was confirmed by deputy police chief Aminullah Amin. The area around the mosque was cordoned off by police and ambulances were seen rushing victims to hospitals in the city, an AFP photographer at the scene said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but the Islamic State group regularly targets Shiites in an attempt to stir up sectarian violence in the Sunni-majority country. IS’s local franchise in Afghanistan claimed an attack in Kabul last Wednesday that killed at least 33 people and wounded dozens more, many of them teenagers. A suicide bomber blew himself up among a crowd of people celebrating Nawrooz, the Persian new year holiday, in a heavily Shiite neighbourhood.



37 dead, scores missing in Siberia shopping mall fire


MOSCOW: At least 37 people were killed when a fire ripped through a busy shopping centre in an industrial city in western Siberia, with scores more reported missing, including children. “At this time, we can confirm the deaths of 37 people in the fire at the Kemerovo shopping centre”, Russia’s Investigative Committee said, according to TASS news agency. Images on Russian television showed thick black smoke pouring out of the Winter Cherry shopping centre in the city of Kemerovo, which also boasts a sauna, a multiplex cinema and a bowling alley that was packed with people on a Sunday afternoon. Investigators had initially reported five people dead including a child and another 30 people injured and taken to hospital. As the new death toll was announced, a source in the local rescue services said 69 people including 40 children were reported missing, the RIA Novosti agency reported, while the Investigative Committee said it was “verifying information that 35 people could be missing”.


The preliminary findings of the inquiry said the fire started around 1100 GMT in one of the cinema halls and destroyed more than 1,000 square metres of the centre, news agencies reported. “The roof collapsed in two theatres in the cinema,” the Investigative Committee said. Around 120 people had been evacuated from the burning centre, rescuers said. “This shopping centre on several floors was packed with people mid-day Sunday. No one knows exactly how many people there were inside when the fire broke out,” Alexandre Eremeyev, an official with the local Russian emergency services ministry, said in a statement. “Where to look for people? How many are there? That has greatly complicated the work of the firefighters,” he said, adding that the thick smoke was also hindering their task. Some 300 firefighters and rescue personnel were rushed to the scene and the fire was brought under control around 1730 GMT, local emergency officials said. Russia’s minister of emergency services, Vladimir Putchkov has gone to Kemerovo, RIA Novosti said.



Beijing issues 3-day major smog alert, third this year



BEIJING: Beijing declared its third major smog alert of 2018, and the second this month, just a day after being named the top performer among 28 Chinese cities that took special measures to rein in pollution. Saturday’s orange alert, the second-highest in a four-level system after red, will run from Monday to Wednesday, the Beijing environmental protection bureau said in a post on its official Weibo microblog account. The central part of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is forecast to see medium to heavy pollution over the three days, it added. An orange alert requires factories that make furniture, cement and other heavy industry to limit output by 30 percent to 50 percent. More than 700 companies figure among the affected firms in the capital. Beijing achieved the biggest reduction in average pollution among 28 northern cities from October to February, the bulk of a winter heating season that ended on March 15, the newly formed Ministry of Ecology and Environment said last week on Weibo. The Chinese capital’s first orange alert this year ran from Jan. 13 to 15, and the second from March 12 to 14. There have been no red alerts this year.



6.4 quake off eastern Indonesia, tsunami alert lifted: Seismic monitors



JAKARTA: A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck off eastern Indonesia in the early hours of Monday, triggering a brief tsunami alert that was swiftly lifted, according to seismic monitoring organisations. The quake struck deep at some 171 kilometres (106 miles) below the surface of the earth in the Banda Sea, the US Geological Survey reported. A tsunami alert was initially triggered by the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWMS). However, IOTWMS followed up with a second bulletin that said there was “no threat to countries in the Indian Ocean”.



South Korea’s coast guard rescues all 163 after ferry hits rock



SEOUL: South Korea’s coast guard said it rescued all 163 people from a ferry that hit a rock in waters off the country’s southwestern coast on Sunday. At least six people sustained minor injuries. A coast guard official said the ferry’s 158 passengers and five crew members were being taken to shore on four coast guard vessels and a number of civilian fishing boats. The rescue operation went smoothly because the ferry wasn’t flooded and didn’t lose its balance despite the crash off islands in Sinan County, he said. The coast guard initially said the ferry was carrying 187 passengers, but later revised the number to 158. The official said it appeared the ferry hit the rock while trying to avoid a fishing boat while traveling in foggy waters. Rescue workers treated six people for minor injuries caused from the shock of the crash, which left the ferry’s front pushed atop the rock, he said. Another coast guard official, from the nearby port of Mokpo, said his department planned to question the ferry’s captain and crew members to investigate the cause of the crash. Tests from alcohol detectors showed that none of them had been drinking before the accident, he said. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing office rules. The area is not far from where a ferry sank and killed more than 300 people in 2014, triggering a national outpouring of grief and soul-searching over lax safety standards.



Car bomb kills 4 near parliament in Somali capital



MOGADISHU: Somali police say a car bomb has been detonated near parliament headquarters in the capital, Mogadishu, killing at least four people along with the driver and several others are injured. A huge cloud of smoke can be seen billowing over the area dotted with security checkpoints erected along a road leading to the presidential palace. The car bomb was detonated at a security checkpoint after soldiers intercepted and stopped a suspicious vehicle, senior police Capt. Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press. The blast comes three days after at least 14 people were killed and 10 others wounded in a car bomb blast near the Weheliye hotel on the busy Makka Almukarramah road.


Mogadishu is often a target of attacks by the Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa. A truck bombing in October killed 512 people in the country’s deadliest-ever attack. Only a few attacks since 9/11 have killed more people. The Horn of Africa nation continues to struggle to counter the Islamic extremist group. Concerns have been high over plans to hand over the country’s security to Somalia’s own forces as a 21,000-strong African Union force begins a withdrawal that is expected to be complete in 2020. The US military, which has stepped up efforts against al-Shabab in the past year with dozens of drone strikes, has said Somali forces are not yet ready.

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