Cash van driver vanishes with Rs 28 lakhs
Chennai: A private cash management firm driver disappeared with Rs 28 lakh when other employees had gone inside the Chennai airport to load an ATM machine on Wednesday night. Police said the driver Udhaya Kumar, 40, of Tuticorin had joined the firm three days ago. On Wednesday, around 8.30pm, employees of Writer cash management company arrived at the airport to load money in a Canara Bank ATM in the domestic terminal. They were carrying Rs 65 lakh in the van and loaded Rs 22 lakh at an ATM in Guindy before reaching the airport. Security Guard Ziauddin, 40, Rajkumar, 24, of Maduranthagam and Karunakaran, 32, of Urapakkam were loading Rs 15 lakh in the ATM, while the driver was asked to wait in the parking area. After about 15 minutes, when they returned, the vehicle was not to be found in the parking area. “Since, he was new to the job, the staff assumed that he might have parked the vehicle outside the airport. They looked for the van in the entire parking area. When they tried calling him over his mobile phone, it had been switched off, a police officer said. The van was found abandoned on the service road under the flyover outside the airport, Udhayakumar was missing with a cash box containing Rs 28 lakh. A police complaint has been filed and investigations are on.
More red-eye flights on cards as airports choke
NEW DELHI: India may be the world’s fastest growing aviation market but its crippling airport infrastructure crunch is now threatening this growth story. TOI has accessed the minutes of the meeting held between airlines and aviation authorities to finalise the winter flight schedule. Only three airports – Chennai, Bengaluru and Trivandrum – can handle four more flights an hour this winter while all other big airports remain choked in terms of runway capacity. Aviation authorities approved 18,860 weekly domestic flights from 90 airports in winter 2017-18 – up 9.8% from the 17,170 from 77 airports cleared for this summer. The increase in approved flights- which is always more than flights actually operated – is mainly due to clearing regional flights from hitherto unused small airports. However, the crunch at big airports is leading to alarm bells ringing with airport operators now threatening to act tough on airlines that do not actually operate the precious slots given to them by taking them away and giving them to someone else who will operate a flight at that time.
Airlines get slots approved but are not able to operate all the flights due to various reasons. Among the major factors is that in the last one year, grounding of a large number of Airbus A-320 new engine options (NEO) due to trouble with the Pratt & Whitney engines used on these planes by two budget airlines has led to flight cancellations. In a possible first, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has “proposed financial penalty for slot misuse by airlines”. Private airport operators also said airlines must adhere to slots and give up those which they are not operating so that someone else can fly at the time. Given the slot crunch at major airports, accommodating new regional flights, which typically link a big airport to nearby small airports, is also proving to be a challenge. Joint secretary in the aviation ministry Usha Padhee, who is in charge of regional connectivity scheme (RCS), “requested all airlines to move some of their flights in red eye hours (prior to 5 am) to make room for regional connectivity flights during the early morning hours. “She suggested that swapping of slots may also be done to provide slots for RCS operations,” the minutes say.
New year’s gift: Mumbai to get its first AC local trains on January 1
MUMBAI: Mumbai’s commuters will get air-conditioned local trains as a new year gift from the railways. Railway minister Piyush Goyal said on Wednesday that the first AC rake will be introduced on Western Railway on January 1. The plan to introduce AC locals in Mumbai has been on the cards for a decade. Initially, WR will run one AC rake with seven services daily. A single ticket is likely to cost the same as a first class ticket, but season passes are expected to be priced around 1.5 times more than their first class equivalents. The railways has procured nine more EMU (electrical multiple unit) AC rakes for Mumbai so that services can be introduced on Central Railway (CR) as well. The first AC train was scheduled to run this month, but operational issues had led to the delay. Manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, the AC rake will have electrically operated automatic sliding doors with the motorman in control. Like ordinary locals, the AC train will have a halt of 20-30 seconds at station. Meanwhile, the railway minister has also mooted passenger augmentation on the suburban line by beginning elevated train services in Mumbai area as reported by TOI. The minister also said that he has already approved 370 escalators for Mumbai, and CCTVs are to be installed in all the trains and stations in Mumbai for better security.
Two more dengue deaths set off fresh spurt alarm
KOLKATA: Last week’s depression-triggered showers had given rise to an apprehension of a fresh spurt in the dengue outbreak and two deaths in the city on Wednesday confirmed that the fears were not unfounded. While an 11-year-old Class VI student from Chetla succumbed to the virus at Chittaranjan Seva Sadan, a 77-year-old resident of Dum Dum died of dengue at the Dum Dum Municipality Hospital. According to his family, Pritam Haldar, the Chetla student, had been suffering from fever since last Wednesday. He was taken to Chittaranjan Seba Sadan on Friday, but was allegedly refused admission. His condition worsened over the weekend and the youngster was taken back to the hospital on Monday. Even though he was taken in immediately, Pritam’s condition had turned severe by then. He passed away at 10am on Wednesday and the death certificate mentioned dengue as the cause of death. “He would have survived had the hospital not refused him on Friday,” alleged a family member. On the other hand, Dum Dum resident Aditya Prasad Bagchi had been admitted to the hospital on Tuesday evening with high fever and severe body ache. He was kept under observation and was due to undergo a repeat test to confirm dengue, along with several other tests. But Bagchi passed away at 11.15am before the tests could be conducted. His elder son Ananda Prasad, too, has been down with dengue and is admitted in the Charnock Hospital in Salt Lake. Bagchi’s death certificate cited “cardiac arrest” as the cause, but mentioned that he had dengue. According to his family, Bagchi had been suffering from fever since Monday.
A test done at a private clinic had confirmed dengue. He was taken to Charnock Hospital on Tuesday evening. Since there was no bed, the septuagenarian had to be moved to the municipality hospital. “He was kept under observation and given saline. He was stable, though his platelet count had dropped. Doctors, however, said the drop was not alarming yet. But this morning his condition deteriorated and he suffered a cardiac arrest,” said his other son Ashish. The Bagchi family live in Arjunpur. Even though areas like Madhugarh in Dum Dum have been severely affected by the dengue outbreak, Arjunpur has had only a few cases. “Honestly, we never expected this. Last week, my brother was diagnosed with dengue and had to be hospitalized. Fortunately, he is now stable. But my father had more severe symptoms, possibly due to his age,” Ashish added. On Saturday, a 10-year-old Class V student from Pallisree in south Kolkata had succumbed to dengue at the AMRI Hospital in Mukundapur. Doctors have already issued a warning that the dengue outbreak could get severe following the sporadic showers last week. On Wednesday morning, too, Kolkata was lashed by a spell of rain. “These intermittent spells of rain are dangerous for they lead to the accumulation of fresh water which serve as breeding grounds for aedes egypti larvae. Also, the temperature hasn’t dropped sufficiently to kill the virus. The epidemic might receive a fresh spurt,” said microbiologist Irfaan Akhtar.
Air traffic congestion at Bengaluru airport affects flight services in Chennai
CHENNAI: One flight was cancelled and four arrivals from Bengaluru were delayed in Chennai due to air traffic congestion at Bengaluru airport on Wednesday. Passengers of a Chennai -Pune IndiGo flight were stranded after the 11.40am flight was cancelled an hour before departure. The airline cited bad weather in Bengaluru as the reason. Planes are stuck in Bengaluru airport which is facing delays in flight operations. “There was confusion after passengers received SMS’s saying the flight is cancelled. Most of the people have arrived at the airport. The airline is accommodating people on Hyderabad flights and Mumbai flights,” said a passenger who got accommodation in a Hyderabad flight which connects to Pune. However, many were not happy because their trip got delayed by several hours. Four arrivals from Bengaluru were delayed. An IndiGo flight scheduled for 7.15am, a SpiceJet flight scheduled for 8.25am and a Jet Airways flight scheduled for 9.30am were delayed by two hours. Another Jet Airways flight scheduled to arrive at 10.10am landed at 11am. Airport sources said more arrivals from Bengaluru were likely to be delayed.
New screenings for US-bound passengers on global airlines
DUBAI: Five global long-haul airlines will begin new ‘security interviews’ of all passengers on US-bound flights beginning Thursday at the request of American officials, the companies said Wednesday. Long-haul carriers Air France, Cathay Pacific, EgyptAir, Emirates and Lufthansa all said they’d start the screenings. However, the airlines offered different descriptions of how the interviews would take place. It wasn’t immediately clear if other global airlines would be affected, though the Trump administration previously rolled out a laptop ban and travel bans that have thrown global airlines into disarray. The US Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, it comes at the end of a 120-day deadline for airlines to meet new US regulations following the ban on laptops in airplane cabins of some Mideast airlines being lifted. Air France said it will begin new security interviews on Thursday at Paris Orly Airport and a week later, on Nov. 2, at Charles de Gaulle Airport. It said the extra screening will take the form of a questionnaire handed over to ‘100 percent’ of passengers. Emirates said in a statement it would begin doing ‘pre-screening interviews’ at its check-in counters for passengers flying out of Dubai and at boarding gates for transit and transfer fliers. It urged those flying through Dubai International Airport, its headquarters, to allow extra time to check into flights and board. “These measures will work in complement with the current additional screening measures conducted at the boarding gate,” it said. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said on its website that it had suspended self-drop baggage services and that passengers heading to the US “will be subject to a short security interview”.
Those without bags would have a similar interview at their gates. EgyptAir said in a statement the new measures include more detailed searches of passengers and their luggage and interviews. The strict procedures will extend to unauthorized agricultural or veterinary products. Germany’s Lufthansa said the new rules came from the US Transportation Security Administration, which is under Homeland Security. “In addition to the controls of electronic devices already introduced, travelers to the USA might now also face short interviews at check-in, document check or gate,” Lufthansa said in a statement. In March, US officials instituted the ban on laptops in airplane cabins across 10 Middle East cities over concerns Islamic State fighters and other extremists could hide bombs inside of them. That ban was lifted after those airlines began using devices like CT scanners to examine electronics just before passenger’s board airplanes heading to the United States. That laptop ban, as well as travel bans affecting predominantly Muslim countries, have hurt Mideast airlines. Emirates, the region’s biggest, said it slashed 20 percent of its flights to America in the wake of the restrictions. It wasn’t immediately clear if other Mideast airlines were affected by the new rules. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad said its operations ‘were normal’ without elaborating, while Doha-based Qatar Airways did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Japan police unmask 74-year-old ‘ninja’ burglar
TOKYO: Japanese police have finally nabbed a nimble “ninja” thief who dressed in black and scrambled over walls to commit scores of break-ins over an eight-year career – and were astonished to find he was 74. Police in the western Japanese city of Osaka had been stumped by a string of burglaries, their only lead being security camera footage showing an agile thief with a black neck-warmer pulled up to the nose and a parker hood down to the eyebrows. “He was dressed all in black just like a ninja,” a senior official at the Kawachi police station told AFP. But the master thief made a mistake in May – his neck-warmer slipped and his identity was revealed on camera. Police recognised their man as Mitsuaki Tanigawa, 74, who had a previous record of thefts. They then started watching the aged crook and tried to trap him. “Investigators watched him doddering out from his house like any other old man during daytime. He then went to an abandoned apartment room where he changed and waited until it got dark,” the official said. “When he came out in the dark, he was all in black.
He did not take ordinary streets, squeezing through tight spaces between houses and running on the tops of walls,” he added. As investigators were unable to pursue the agile thief to catch him in the act, they finally pounced when he came back to his hideout at 4am after robbing an electronics store. Under arrest, Tanigawa said he “hated working and thought stealing is quicker,” according to the police official. He has been charged for over 254 break-ins for thefts totaling 30 million yen ($260,000) over the past eight years. He later told the police that he needed only 10 minutes to sneak into a house, stealing mainly cash from people as they slept. “He’s a pro. He told us ‘I have confidence in my job’,” the police official said. “If I were younger, I wouldn’t have been caught. I’ll quit now as I’m 74 and old enough,” the thief was quoted as saying.