News Flash – 27 November 2017

National News



Mumbai Police goes hi-tech, arm patrol vans with tablets to attend to calls within 8 minutes



MUMBAI: Using technology to reduce response time to distress calls to 5-8 minutes from the current 10-15 minutes, Mumbai Police have equipped patrol vans with tablets. So, now when the control room receives a distress call, it immediately tracks the patrol van closest to the spot via GPS and sends the information on the tablet. After reaching the spot, policemen also use the tablet to click photographs and videos to use as evidence. “Currently, patrol vans in south Mumbai have been equipped with tablets as a pilot project. Once successful here, tablets can be given to vans across all police stations,” an IPS officer said. In Delhi, police patrol vans are equipped with tablets. Police on patrol duty attend to situations which may or may not culminate in an FIR being registered. For instance, a marital squabble, an argument between neighbours, or a complaint about drug addicts frequenting an area. Policemen often mediate in disputes and counsel the people involved. “There are times when allegations are levelled at patrolling personnel for having a biased attitude towards one of the parties. A video recording of the goings-on would make things clear when senior officers take a review,” said a cop.


Also, in some instances, false information about an incident or morphed photographs are uploaded on social media which could lead to a law and order problem. Here, photographs shot by the patrolling team using the tablet could be banked upon as authentic. There have, however, been some teething problems. The tablet logs out in areas where there is poor network and the personnel aboard the van have to be alerted to move to another area. This could delay response time. “We are working towards ironing out the glitches. Traditional wireless sets can be used to communicate with the patrol van team if the tablets can’t connect temporarily,” suggested a police officer.



Scrap goes up in flames in Mankhurd market



MUMBAI: A major fire at a scrap market gutted many godowns in Mankhurd on Sunday. No one sustained injuries and the fire brigade took around five hours to control the blaze. Thick smoke engulfed the entire area as the scrap material was burning, and it was visible from a long distance, said an eye-witness who passed from the Eastern Express Highway late in the afternoon. The fire started around 2pm in the area, known as Kurla scrapyard, but situated in Mandala, Mankhurd. It was confined to scrap material, including oil drums, chemical drums, wooden planks and tyres. Most scrap material was kept inside the godowns but some was dumped outside in a hazardous manner, sources said. Twenty-two scrap godowns were destroyed in the incident. The fire brigade had deployed eight fire engines and controlled the fire around 6.40pm. Residents told fire brigade officials that no one was trapped in the fire. Firemen started cooling operations to confirm if there was any casualty in the incident. Local Corporator Samiksha Sakre said, “Most godowns were illegal. They collect scrap material from Kurla and dump them in the area after removing the usable material. Someone at one of the godowns was cutting tiles with a machine, and a spark caused the fire”.



Delhi air quality may drop further in next 3 days

Though wind speeds have been fairly good, the minimum and maximum temperatures are dropping rapidly in the Capital.



NEW DELHI: Although the capital’s air quality stayed in the ‘very poor’ category on Sunday, it’s likely to become close to ‘severe’ by the next three days. The overall air quality index(AQI), released by Central Pollution Control Board, rose from 322 on Saturday to 352 as falling temperatures trapped pollutants closer to the ground. Though wind speeds have been fairly good, the minimum and maximum temperatures are dropping rapidly, said experts. Over the next three days, the minimum temperature is likely to be around 7 degrees Celsius while the maximum would be around 26. “The drop in temperature is the primary reason behind the spike in the pollution levels. The humidity levels are also rising and the drop in temperature is bringing down the mixing height that results in pollutants getting trapped closer to the ground,” said a SAFAR scientist.



Over the past 24 hours, both PM10 and PM2.5 levels also showed a spike, according to the data released by System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). While PM2.5 levels rose from 149 micrograms per cubic metre on Saturday to 194 on Sunday, PM10 levels reached 309 from 249. The safe standards for both ultrafine particles are 60 and 100 micrograms per cubic metre, respectively. While the forecasts earlier had shown a gradual rise in pollution levels, Delhi witnessed the spike within 24 hours. While PM10 levels are likely to touch 368 micrograms per cubic metre over the next three days, PM2.5 levels will go up to 231, nearly four times the safe standard. The rest of the national capital region, too, saw a dip in the air quality. While most areas fell in the ‘very poor’ category, Ghaziabad once again reached the ‘severe’ category with an AQI of 449 on Sunday. Delhi last slipped into this category on November 13.



Robbers loot jewellery, cash worth 6 lakh



NEW DELHI: Armed men struck a house in east Delhi’s Seelampur on Friday night. The criminals attacked the occupants, a woman and her grandson, and decamped with cash worth Rs 2 lakh and jewellery worth Rs 4 lakh. “We have registered a case based on the complaint of the house owner and are probing the matter,” said deputy commissioner of police (Shahdara) Nupur Prasad. The incident took place around 2am when the occupants of the house, Sheila Devi Chaudhary (65) and Sahil Chaudhary (17), were sleeping in the bedroom of the second floor flat. Sahil heard some noise coming from the living room and was about to check on it when four armed men stomped into his room and pointed a country-made pistol at his face. The assailants then asked Sahil’s grandmother to hand over the keys of the safe to them. After locking them in the bedroom, the assailants fled with the cash and jewellery. The family got a complaint registered the next day. Police officers scanned the CCTV footage from the nearby area and found some men decamping with the loot. “We are trying to ascertain the identity of the robbers from the CCTV footage,” said a senior police officer. Police are also questioning the domestic help and neighbours in the area to obtain more information about the incident.



Chennai receives 4cm rainfall, MET office says expect more



CHENNAI: Sporadic but fierce showers for more than eight hours from 8pm, and scattered rainfall earlier in the say, brought the city 4cm of rainfall between 8am and midnight on Sunday. The rain brought daytime temperature down by more than 2°C, as heavy clouds brought intermittent showers. Overcast weather persisted throughout the day, with the Met office recording more than 1cm of rainfall at Nungambakkam till 7pm. The skies opened up a couple of hours later, and rain fell in sheets across most localities. The Met office predicted more rainfall in the city till at least Tuesday. The temperature was less than 25°C at 9am on Sunday, the Met office said, adding that it recorded a maximum temperature of 28.1°C around 3pm. It said the maximum temperature on Monday is likely to be 29°C and the minimum 26°C. According to a Met bulletin, a fresh low pressure area is likely to form over southeast Bay of Bengal around Wednesday. Southern districts of Tamil Nadu are likely to receive moderate rainfall on Monday, and some coastal districts, including Chennai, intermittent showers. The Met office said northeasterly gusts will touch 55kmph on Monday and warned fishermen to take caution before venturing to sea. The city has since October recorded 79cm rainfall (at the Nungambakkam weather station), or 13cm above the average for the period in interior Chennai.



Bomb hoax at railway station, second in a week



Ahmedabad: For the second time in a week, police had to rush to the city railway station when an unidentified person called the fire control room and said that he had heard two persons saying that they had planted a bomb on Platform Number 1 of the railway station. However, the bomb disposal squad, dog squad and the police found nothing suspicious after they had searched all platforms and the trains at the railway platform. However, the search operations caused a major scare at the railway station with people running here and there, many with little kids. Sources in the police said that on Saturday noon, fire control room got a call from a cell number about a bomb allegedly planted at the railway station. “We have traced the person in whose name the sim card was issued. It seems that the call was a prank and made from a stolen phone,” said a senior police officer of special operations group (SOG). “Such scares should not be taken lightly and the person making such hoax calls should be dealt with severely according to law. The scare can cause a stampede or even cardiac arrest in those who are medically weak,” the senior police officer said. This is second bomb hoax at the railway station in a week. However, it is third in two months if the hijack scare caused by Mumbai-based jeweller Birju Salla is taken into account, a police officer said.



International News



Bali raises volcano alert to highest level: Officials

Balinese pray near Mount Agung in hope of preventing a volcanic eruption.



KARANGASEM: The alert for a volcano belching huge plumes of smoke on Indonesia‘s resort island of Bali has been raised to the highest level, officials said Monday, with fears a significant eruption could be imminent. The exclusion zone around Mount Agung, which is 75 kilometres (47 miles) from the tourist hub of Kuta, has been widened to 10 kilometers, with people living in the exclusion zone being urged to evacuate. “The volcano’s alert level has been raised to the highest level,” said senior state volcanologist Gede Suantika. “Constant tremors can be felt”. Huge plumes of smoke have been pouring out of the volcano since Tuesday and Suantika said it was belching thick grey smoke as high as 3,400 metres (11,154 feet) early Monday. About 25,000 people living nearby the mountain have already left their homes and evacuated since Mount Agung first started to spew smoke Tuesday. “Continuous ash puffs are sometimes accompanied by explosive eruptions accompanied by a weak sound of boom,” the National Board for Disaster Management wrote on Facebook. “The rays of fire are increasingly observed at night. This indicates the potential for a larger eruption is imminent”. National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho called for people to stay calm.


The airport in Bali’s capital Denpasar, a top holiday destination that attracts millions of foreign tourists every year, has been closed. “Bali’s airport has indeed been closed. We’re still coordinating the next steps,” airport spokesman Arie Ahsanurrohim told AFP. The Australian government put out a travel advisory Sunday instructing travelers to exercise a high degree of caution in Indonesia and follow the instructions of authorities. Mount Agung last erupted in 1963, killing about 1,600 people. It rumbled back to life in September and authorities raised the alert to the highest level, forcing 140,000 people living nearby to evacuate. The volcano’s activity decreased in late October and many people returned to their home as the alert was lowered to the second-highest level. But Mount Agung started rumbling again last Tuesday. Mount Agung is one of more than 120 active volcanoes extending the length of Indonesia, which straddles the Pacific Ring of Fire.



16 hurt fleeing false terror alert in London’s Oxford Street shopping

Armed police officials patrol along Oxford street.



LONDON: Police rushed to London’s busy Oxford Street shopping district on Friday after reports that shots had been fired, sparking fears of a terror incident and leaving 16 people hurt in the panic. There was panic around Oxford Circus and in its underground station shortly after 4:30pm (1630 GMT), as police said they were responding “as if the incident is terrorist-related”. Crowds ran from the scene, many rushing into already packed shops for safety, reflecting the nervousness in a country that has seen five terror attacks since March. But just over an hour later, the Metropolitan Police said: “To date police have not located any trace of any suspects, evidence of shots fired or casualties. “Officers continue to work with colleagues from British Transport Police in the area of Oxford Circus”. A short time later, they tweeted: “Our response on #OxfordStreet has now been stood down. “If you sought shelter in a building please now leave, and follow the direction of police officers on the ground if you need assistance”. Oxford Circus, the junction of London’s Oxford Street and Regent Street, was packed with shoppers seeking to take advantage of “Black Friday” bargains. The British Transport Police said they had received one report of a woman sustaining a minor injury when leaving the station.


Shopper Ahlam Ibrahim told AFP she was pushed into a shop when people started shouting. “We didn’t know what was going on, it was really a nightmare. I am glad nobody was hurt,” she said. Transport authorities said Oxford Circus station was reopened, as was nearby Bond Street, which had been closed amid fears of overcrowding. Trains were stopping at both. In the first statement, police said they were called at 4:38 pm “to a number of reports of shots fired on Oxford Street and underground at Oxford Circus tube station… Police have responded as if the incident is terrorist related”. They later said there were “numerous 999 (emergency) calls” reporting shots fired in a number of locations in the area. British security forces are on high alert after a string of attacks this year, which have left scores of people dead. The most recent involved a bomb on a packed London Underground train in south-west London in September, which injured 30 people. A teenager is facing trial for attempted murder.



Syria regime bombing kills 19 civilians near Damascus

Smoke rising following a reported air strike in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus.



BEIRUT: Syrian regime air strikes and artillery fire killed 19 civilians on Sunday across the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region outside the capital Damascus, a monitor said. The deaths come despite the area falling within a so-called “de-escalation zone” put in place under a deal between government allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey. Eastern Ghouta is already in the grip of a humanitarian crisis caused by a crushing regime siege of the area since 2013 that has caused food and medical shortages. On Sunday, government air strikes on the areas of Mesraba and Madira killed 17 civilians, while artillery fire on the town of Douma killed another two civilians, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said. “The toll could rise further because of the number of wounded people in serious condition,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. Regime bombardment of Eastern Ghouta in the last two weeks has killed more than 100 people, according to the Observatory. Rebels have also fired from the region into Damascus, killing several people. Humanitarian access to Eastern Ghouta has remained limited despite the implementation of the truce zone, and a United Nations official referred to the region as the “epicentre of suffering” in Syria. More than 340,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.



Apartment building fire in Spain: 1 dead, 32 injured



MADRID: Spanish authorities say that an apartment building caught fire in the southern city of Granada, leaving one woman dead and nearly three dozen others in need of medical treatment. Granada’s police said on Saturday that “we have to lament the death of a person because of a fire last night”. Emergency services for the southern region of Andalusia said the victim was a woman and that 32 more people needed medical attention.



Factory blast in China’s eastern Ningbo city, 2 dead

Damaged cars are seen at the site of an explosion in Ningbo in China’s eastern Zhejiang province on November 26, 2017.



BEIJING: A major explosion hit China’s megaport city of Ningbo on Sunday, killing at least two people, injuring dozens and destroying buildings and cars, state media and local authorities said. The Ningbo government said on a social media account that the blast occurred in a “vacant lot” but it did not provide details about what may have caused it. Local authorities said two people died, two were seriously injured and an unidentified number were being treated for injuries in the major port city. The Xinhua news agency said earlier that the explosion had taken place in a factory at around 9:00 am while CCTV television said some 30 people were hospitalised. Industrial accidents are common in China, where safety standards are often lax. Television images showed cars twisted and mangled by the force of the explosion, a plume of grey smoke rising in the sky, and debris scattered for dozens of metres around the site of the incident. Footage showed rescuers wearing helmets carrying injured people away from the area, while others stood over a person lying on the ground. Pieces of concrete, wood and glass were strewn across a large area. Metal gates were twisted open and windows blown out.


According to CCTV, eyewitnesses said there were “a large number of injured people” in the city, one of China’s largest ports, which sits just south of Shanghai. The Communist Party’s People’s Daily said on Twitter that no one lived at site of the explosion but garbage collectors might have been working there. An enquiry has been launched to determine the cause of the explosion, the local police in Jiangbei district, where the blast happened, said on social media. Ningbo is one of the country’s major international cargo and container shipping ports. China has been rocked by several industrial accidents in recent years. In 2015, giant blasts killed at least 165 people in the northern port city of Tianjin, causing over $1 billion in damage and sparking widespread anger over a perceived lack of transparency by officials about the accident’s causes and environmental impact. A government inquiry into the Tianjin accident released in February 2016 recommended 123 people be punished. The official who was mayor at the time of the accident was sentenced to 12 years in prison for graft in September.

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