Slum blaze next to Bandra station sparks panic
This is the second major fire in the slum cluster since 2011, when over 3,000 people were affected.
MUMBAI: A major fire broke out at the Garib Nagar slums on the eastern periphery of Bandra railway station on Wednesday afternoon during a demolition drive and engulfed around 300 hutments. It also affected parts of the station, stalling Harbour line services for over 20 minutes and triggering panic among commuters, before being brought under control. No deaths have been reported. Three fire-fighters and a slum dweller were injured, but are out of danger. Sixteen fire tenders were pressed into service. Firemen were yet to reach the heart of the slum cluster at the time of last reports. This is the second major fire in the slum cluster since 2011, when over 3,000 people were affected. Thursday’s blaze has affected well over 1,000 people. At one point, the flames reached the first-floor ticket booking office on the south foot over bridge. Railway staff immediately evacuated with important documents and cash, and Harbour trains were stopped around 4.25pm. The FOB was also made out of bounds as fire-fighters used it to battle the blaze. Once the flames had been controlled, the services resumed a little before 5pm.
Around noon, a BMC contingent with a strong police team had reached the slum, which stands mostly on railway land right under the FOB, to remove encroachments on both sides of the Tansa water supply line that passes through the area. Recently , the high court had directed that the area around the pipeline be cleared before December for safety reasons. The BMC, which planned to clear around 400 hutments, had demolished around 70, when the fire started in a hut adjoining the FOB around 3.15pm. A gas cylinder exploded, fanning the flames. “We were not allowed to move our belongings. The BMC’s demolition machine hit a hut where someone was cooking, and it caused the fire,” said slum dweller Munna Qureshi. “The area is a fire trap…It’s difficult to take the firefighting system inside, and we are pouring water from all sides to control the fire,” said chief fire officer P Rahangdale, who was guiding the operation. Slum dwellers alleged that the BMC had given them notice on Wednesday night to vacate their premises within 48 hours, but started the demolition drive before the deadline. The BMC denied the allegation, and officials said the drive has been stopped only temporarily for the fire.
TIMES VIEW: If the slums n Bandra’s Garib Nagar are illegal, how is it that so many of them have risen to three storeys? And fires in these slums have also broken out all too often, endangering lives and property. The BMC needs to work in close co-ordination with the police and other aw-enforcing authorities during its demolition drive, so that no panic is created among the slum dwellers and unauthorized structures are cleared without posing any serious risk to anyone, the firefighters included.
Duronto Express engine derails on Konkan route
MUMBAI: The engine of Ernakulam-LTT Duronto Express derailed between Sawantwadi Road and Zarap stations on the Konkan Railway on Thursday afternoon. No injury was reported. Train services on the Konkan route, especially those arriving or leaving Mumbai, may be affected. An official said, “Accident relief train was rushed to the site. Work on retailing the engine and restoring services will be expedited”. Train services could be delayed on Konkan route and details of train running position can be obtained on www.konkanrailway.com.
CCTV footage helps cops crack cradle theft puzzle
HYDERABAD: Though they could not save the four-day-old baby boy, police have left no stone unturned to locate the kidnapper in their bid to rescue the newborn. After the boy’s grandmother Kalpana, alerted her daughter Nirmala and son-in-law Pandu about the child being stolen near Niloufer Hospital, they lodged a complaint with Nampally police. Police immediately analysed CCTV camera footage. Though they could identify the culprit get into an auto bearing an advertisement of TVS, the vehicle registration number could not be identified. Police then contacted the advertisement agency and got details of the auto driver. The auto driver told police he dropped the woman near Lakdikapul. Cops then analysed CCTV footage near the location and saw her getting into a city bus. A special team verified CCTV footage on the route of the bus and saw the woman disembarking at Afzalgunj. Later, she took another bus to Petlaburj Hospital. ” An eye-witness said she got on to a bike. When we checked CCTV footage of the area, she was seen pillion riding on a bike. We tracked the bike till Rachuloor gate near Kandukur, where the vehicle had a flat tyre. Then, the family got into an RTC bus,” Nampally inspector Sanjay Kumar said.
“The suspect’s photos were dispatched to police, sarpanches, Aasha workers and media personnel in Amangal, Kalwakurthy, Veldanda and Achampet mandals,” DCP, Central Zone, D Joel Davis said. An old woman from Badonipally in Veldanda identified the suspect as daughter-in-law of Balamma of their village. “We went to Balamma’s house and she confirmed the suspect was her daughter-in-law Manjula. Our teams then went to Manjula’s house at Katedan and arrested her,” the inspector said. “Manjula suffered a miscarriage five months ago, but concealed the fact from her husband and mother-in-law. It was her second miscarriage. Manjula went to Petlaburj Hospital on Saturday after informing her husband that she was going for a check-up and next day told him that she had delivered a baby boy. The family believed her. “Our teams tried their best, but it is sad that we could not save the boy,” the DCP said.
Bid to rob ATM in Kancheepuram
CHENNAI: Two men attempted to break open an ATM in Nugumbal village near Maduranthakam in Kancheepuram district on Wednesday night. The men abandoned the tools they used in the bid to steal cash from the machine, apparently after seeing people moving around outside the ATM kiosk, police said. Video footage showed that the would-be thieves entered the kiosk a few hours after staff of a security firm had loaded the machine with currency notes. The kiosk plunged into darkness moments after they entered, investigators who analysed the footage said. They did not confirm if the men had disabled the lights. “We will go through the footage again to see if we can identify the suspects,” an investigating officer said. Police have asked prisons officials for details of recently released criminals, he said.
Inferno at Indonesia fireworks factory kills 47
Site of explosion in Tangerang, Indonesia.
JAKARTA: Indonesian police say the death toll from an inferno at a fireworks factory outside Jakarta has risen to 47. The fire began Thursday morning at the factory next to a residential area in Tangerang, a city in Banten province on the western outskirts of Jakarta. A police report said the fire spread after an explosion and that the factory’s roof had collapsed. Tangerang police chief Hary Kurniawan says the death toll could rise further as many of the dozens of injured have extensive burns. He said all 47 bodies recovered so far were found in the remains of the factory and a search is continuing.
Russian helicopter crashes at sea in Arctic, 8 aboard: Norway
OSLO: A Russian helicopter with eight people on board crashed at sea in Norway‘s Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic on Thursday, Norwegian rescue services said. The aircraft went down two or three kilometres from Barentsburg, a Russian mining community in the archipelago, the rescue services said.
Cars torched in attack on French police housing complex
LYON: Attackers set fire to vehicles beneath a housing complex for police and their families in a suburb of Grenoble, eastern France, on Thursday. Police said a fence around the building was closed off in an apparent attempt to prevent residents escaping and rescuers getting in, but all 24 people inside escaped unharmed. Nobody claimed responsibility for the assault, which was the latest in a series of arson attacks against police and police vehicles. “Attacks like this can be tantamount to terrorism,” Grenoble prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat told reporters, adding that the method used was similar to other recent attacks by far-left groups. Last month, such a group claimed responsibility for an arson attack on a police building in Grenoble that destroyed a warehouse and several cars. The group said the fire was a protest against the trial of nine far-left activists accused of firebombing police in an assault on two officers in Paris in May 2016 that was caught on camera. Last month, five police cars were set on fire in Limoges, central France. French police are on high alert after a series of Islamic State-inspired attacks that have killed more than 240 people in the past three years. Aside from the Islamist threat, far-left and far-right militancy has also not let up. Police this month arrested 10 far-right militants suspected of planning attacks on mosques and politicians.