News Flash – 29 April 2017

National News



Lighter is swifter: Firemen to get T-shirts for non-fire calls



MUMBAI: For the first time, uniforms of Mumbai’s firefighters are set to undergo a major design change. In a proposal which it has forwarded to the municipal commissioner for approval, the fire brigade has said it plans to bring in `work uniforms’ which would replace the bulky Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during non-fire emergency calls. A full-sleeved T-shirt will soon be the work uniform for the city’s 2,200 firemen and fire officials for drills, parades and all kinds of emergency calls like rescuing a bird or animal or while intervening in the case of drowning incidents. The PPE, therefore, would be required to be worn by the fire brigade only in case of fire emergency calls. One of the major reasons for the change is the refusal of various firemen to wear the PPE, which is a three-layered uniform known to be extremely cumbersome. In fact, in 2015, 40 firemen were issued show-cause notices for not wearing the PPE during a fire in a 22-storeyed building in Chandivli in which seven persons died. The firemen had then claimed that the PPE was too uncomfortable to be worn during that fire.

According to the new design specifications, the T-shirts will be of different colours for firemen and fire officials. While fire officials will have a full-sleeved navy blue T-shirt, firemen will wear a grey full-sleeved T-shirt. Also, at the moment, yellow-coloured helmets are worn by firemen and fire officials as well. Now, it has been proposed to have green helmets for sub-officers, leading firemen, drivers, operators and firemen, whereas deputy fire officers, assistant divisional fire officers will continue to wear yellow and the chief fire officer will retain his red helmet. The logo of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), better known as the BMC, will now be seen on all the T-shirts and PPEs, and every T-shirt will also have the number of the fire station the fireman belongs to at the back. So, for instance, a T-shirt that has Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) 3 written on it would mean that the fireman is from the Bhendi Bazar fire station. Every fire station has a number attached to it, and these numbers will help the entire force with easy identification.

A senior civic official said they have tried to match the colour of the helmet to the stripes which will be there on the PPEs and T-shirts. So for instance, firemen will have green fluorescent stripes with detachable Velcro numbering and their green helmet, while officers in their PPE would have yellow fluorescent stripes to match their yellow helmets. Chief fire officer P S Ra hangdale said the brigade was now in the process of taking administrative approvals for the changes. “The designs have never been changed in the past, and therefore we felt the need to do it now, along with having very specific identification tags. The work uniforms are proposed to be T-shirts so that firemen and fire officials do not feel uncomfortable,” Rahangdale said.



Two on bike die after falling 40ft off flyover in south Delhi



New Delhi: A youth and his colleague riding a motorcycle died after falling nearly 40 feet off a flyover near Tughlaqabad Metro station on Mehrauli-Badarpur Road on Friday evening. The incident occurred around 4pm when the youth, later identified as Sulabh Pandey (20), was heading home towards Faridabad with his colleague, Prachi (19). Both work at a departmental store in Pul Prahladpur. Pandey was weaving through the traffic when a Honda Mobilio car hit the bike from behind. Eyewitnesses told the police that the youth lost control of his bike and hit the railing of the flyover. Both him and Prachi were thrown off the two-wheeler and landed on their heads 40 feet below. They would have escaped with injuries if the bike and car were travelling at a slower speed, an eyewitness said. Passersby stopped the car and informed the police. The car driver, Mohammad Anwar, was taking his employer, a businessman, to his workplace when the accident occurred. He was later detained by the cops. He said that he could not brake in time as the bike suddenly came in front of him.

Cops said that both Pandey and Prachi were not wearing helmets. They were rushed to AIIMS Trauma Center where they were declared dead on arrival. Doctors said the two died almost instantly as their skulls got fractured due to the fall. The duo had left their workplace around 3.30pm. Pandey had planned to drop Prachi at Badarpur and head home to Faridabad. They had joined work together and would return home at the same time daily. Their bodies will be given to their family members after autopsy on Saturday. A case of causing death due to negligence has been registered against Anwar based on the statements of eyewitnesses. Locals said that many accidents take place on the stretch daily due to the absence of a speed breaker. More than 80,000 vehicles cross this road that connects south Delhi with Haryana daily. The stretch remained jammed during peak hours. As soon as drivers reach the flyover, they tend to speed on the open stretch.



Woman, friend arrested for assaulting traffic cop with helmet



BENGALURU: Two persons, including a woman, were arrested for allegedly assaulting a traffic assistant sub-inspector in Indiranagar on Wednesday. The woman and her friend allegedly attacked the officer with a helmet and verbally abused him after being pulled up for jumping the signal. The incident took place near BMC Circle in Indiranagar. ASI Ratnakar Padmanabhaiah, deployed at the junction, stopped the woman, who was riding a scooter. She then began verbally abusing him, police said. Soon, one of her friends joined in the argument and the two attacked Ratnakar with a helmet. Police withheld details of the woman; they only said she had moved to Bengaluru from Hyderabad for a job.



13 drown in village tank as boat capsizes in Andhra Pradesh



ANANTAPUR: Thirteen members of a family died and two others are missing after their boat capsized in the Erratimma Raju lake in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district on Friday. The victims, which include seven women and six children, were taking a joy ride when the accident took place. Police have launched a search operation with the help of the villagers to trace the two missing family members. According to reports, the small country boat was carrying 17 people and capsized due to overweight. The locals had jumped into the tank to rescue the family, but they could manage to save only two children. According to the police, the family had visited the village to take part in the installation ceremony of ‘Dwajasthambham’ (flag post) of a temple. Soon after the programme ended, the family went to the lake for a joy ride. The country boat could not take the heavy load and overturned. After hearing their cries of help, some locals rushed to the tank and attempted to rescue them. But by then, they had already drowned. Four bodies have been fished out while search is on for the two missing persons.

“The family had ventured into the lake on the country boat after asking the fishermen to stay behind on the tank bund. They did not know how to navigate the boat. Moreover, the boat was overloaded,” an official said. Though there have been instances of boats overturning in canals, rivers and sea in the state, it is for the first time that so many people have drowned in a relatively smaller village tank. Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu directed his cabinet colleague Paritala Sunita to rush to the accident spot and take stock of relief operations. Naidu also spoke with the district collector and superintendent of police. The police have shifted the bodies to a government hospital for examination.



Security camera to help police ID rabbit thieves



CHENNAI: Investigators probing the curious case of 16 rabbits that a research assistant reported missing on Tuesday from a Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (Tanuvas) laboratory in Kattupakkam near Guduvancherry on Friday said they had security camera footage of the thieves making away with the animals. Police said a security camera near the enclosure had captured two juveniles as they stealthily filched 11 Russian Chinchilla rabbits and five New Zealand white rabbits from the research lab. They will use the footage to identify the thieves. “The culprits walked into the research unit and pulled the rabbits out of their unlocked enclosures,” an investigating officer said. “There may have been someone else involved who sent the juveniles to steal the animals and took them from the thieves.”

He said the thieves, who took away the rabbits in a sack, could also have sold the animals for their meat or for resale in the gray market. “The two thieves took some time to select fully-grown rabbits, the largest in the enclosure,” the officer said. “They may have been involved in similar thefts earlier, perhaps the stealing of pet animals whose owners did not contact police”. After the research assistant reported that the rabbits were missing, the head of the institution, Prof H Gopi, lodged a complaint with the Guduvancherry police. Tanuvas had acquired the stolen rabbits a couple of years ago.



Eye infections up by 30% due to soaring temperature



HYDERABAD: The rapid rise in city temperature has resulted in local ophthalmologists witnessing a 30 per cent spurt in cases of eye infections and allergies. Doctor’s sound a word of caution while pointing out how effects of ‘solar retinopathy’ — caused by direct exposure of eyes to sunlight — that may lead to permanent decrease in vision. “Direct exposure to the light can cause development of pterygium (a growth on the cornea) and increase in cataract. Exposure to ultra-violet rays is higher during summer, especially midday. Use of sunglasses that provide UV protection can help in preventing damage to the eye,” said Dr. Vamshidhar, head of medical services (Telangana region) at Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital.

Apart from protecting the eyes from harmful rays, keeping the body well hydrated can also keep eye complications at bay, say doctors. This is because ‘dry eyes’ is one of the most common conditions observed among people during this season. “Dry eyes tend to get aggravated because of quick evaporation of the tear film. There is usually a spurt in cases of allergy, conjunctivitis, dry eyes and stye due to the high heat intensity and air pollution. Patients come with complaints of redness in eyes, itching, foreign body sensation,” said Dr. Prashant Gupta, cataract and cornea consultant, Apollo Hospital, Hyderaguda.



International News



First direct London-China train completes 12,000 km run

News Flash_1 29.04.17

A freight train transporting containers laden with goods from China, arriving at DB Cargo’s London Eurohub rail freight depot in Barking, east London, after travelling from Yiwu in the Chinese province of Zhejiang.


BEIJING: The first freight train to link China directly to the UK arrived in the eastern Chinese city of Yiwu Saturday after covering over 12,000-kilometres (7,500 miles), making it the second-longest route in the world. The journey is the latest effort in China’s drive to strengthen trade links with Western Europe along a modern-day “Silk Road” route. The world’s top trading nation launched the “One Belt, One Road” strategy in 2013, and has since poured millions into constructing vast infrastructure links. The train — loaded with whisky, baby milk, pharmaceuticals and machinery — departed London on April 10 and passed through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan during its 20-day trip before arriving in Yiwu in eastern Zhejiang province, a major wholesale centre for small consumer goods. The new route is longer than Russia’s famous Trans-Siberian railway, but about 1000 kilometres shorter than the record-holding China-Madrid link, which opened in 2014. London is the 15th city to be linked to a new freight network offered by the state-run China Railway Corporation, which says its services are cheaper than air transport and quicker than shipping.

The journey should be 30 days faster than moving the goods by ship, the provincial government had said, but the pilot run took two days more than the 18 days expected. And the train, named the East Wind, has much less carrying capacity — just 88 shipping containers, according to the Yiwu government, compared to the 10,000 to 20,000 containers cargo ships can carry. It is unclear how much the venture cost, and some experts have questioned whether the ambitious project makes economic sense. “It is hard to say at this stage what the economic return will be, as the economic benefits will come over a long time,” He Tianjie of Oxford Economics Hong Kong told AFP. “However, the train is in some aspects more convenient and flexible. It can make multiple stops, allowing for the pickup and offloading of cargo along the way. Rail transport is also less affected by adverse weather conditions. Therefore, there may be a role for such long-haul rail links,” he said. China already has a regular direct freight train service to Germany, Europe’s largest economy.

One route links the Chinese megacity of Chongqing to Duisburg, a steel-making town and one of Germany’s most-important transportation and commercial hubs. The other route links Beijing, the Chinese capital, to Hamburg, Germany’s second-largest city. Roughly 80 percent of global trade is shipped by sea as freight train services face technical and bureaucratic hurdles which vary according to country. The East Wind’s locomotive and carriages had to be changed en route because of the larger gauge on railways in the former Soviet Union. Prime Minister Theresa May will visit China later this year, with talks likely to include closer trade ties for when Britain leaves the European Union, according to British officials.



Brazil protesters, police clash in first general strike in decades



SAO PAULO/BRASILIA: Brazilian protesters torched buses, clashed with police in several cities and marched on President Michel Temer‘s Sao Paulo residence on Friday amid the nation’s first general strike in more than two decades. Unions called the strike to voice anger over Temer’s efforts to push austerity measures through congress, bills that would weaken labor laws and trim a generous pension system. The blackened hulls of at least eight burned commuter buses littered central Rio de Janeiro as police launched rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets at masked protesters. Despite the protests, Temer and members of his centre-right government denounced the strike as a failure. They said that the unions’ targeting of public transport meant that people who wanted to go to work were unable to. Unions said the strike was a success and pointed to adherence by millions of workers in key sectors like automakers, petroleum, schools and even banking. Strikes hit all 26 states and the Federal District. “It is important for us to send a message to the government that the country is watching what they are doing, taking away workers’ rights,” said Marco Clemente, head of the 4,000-member radio and TV workers union in Brasilia, leading a picket line outside the headquarters of state broadcaster EBC.

Temer, who was in Brasilia, denounced the violence used by some protesters. He said in an emailed statement that “small groups” had blocked the population from using public transport and said that “work toward the modernization of national legislation will continue”. Brazil’s last general strike took place in 1996, in protests over privatizations and labor reforms under former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Despite Friday’s action, many analysts said the strike would have little immediate impact on the president’s austerity push, and that the bills are still expected to pass given Temer’s continued support among lawmakers. Brazilians angry at reforms Temer’s reforms have deeply angered many Brazilians and he is weighed down by a 10 percent approval rating for his government. He took over last year when former leader Dilma Rousseff, whom Temer served as vice president, was impeached for breaking budgetary rules. Her supporters denounced the act as a ‘coup’ orchestrated by Temer and his allies in a bid to derail a sweeping corruption investigation. “This is not a government that was elected with these proposals,” said Bernard Costa, a 27-year-old medical student protesting in Sao Paulo. “These reforms are showing people that this government has is neither legitimate nor representative”.

“Shameless government” read one placard waved by one of a group of protesters who gathered outside Temer’s family home in Sao Paulo. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Nearly one-third of Temer’s ministers and several congressional leaders are under investigation in Brazil’s largest political graft scheme yet uncovered. It revolves around kickbacks from construction companies in return for winning lucrative projects at state-run oil company Petrobras. Temer has proposed a minimum age for retirement, which would compel many employees to work longer to receive a pension and reduce payouts in a country were many workers retire with full benefits in their 50s. The lower house of Congress approved a bill this week to weaken labor laws by relaxing restrictions on outsourcing and temporary contracts, further inflaming union resistance. The government argues that economic reforms are needed to pull Brazil out of its worst recession on record, cut a huge budget deficit, reduce record unemployment and modernize the economy.

The strike had a large impact on auto production in Sao Paulo, which concentrates the bulk of the industry in Brazil. General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co, Toyota Motor Corp and Mercedes-Benzparent Daimler AG all halted production, according to company officials, unions and market analysts. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, the No. 1 car seller Brazil, said it was operating normally. Union officials said most workers at state-run oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, joined the strike, but the company said the stoppage had no significant impact on output. Iron ore miner Vale SA said the strike did not affect its operations. The 24-hour strike started after midnight on Friday, ahead of a long weekend with Labor Day on Monday. The benchmark Bovespa stock index was up nearly 1 percent while the nation’s currency, the real, was little changed as investors assessed the impact of the strike.



North Korea defies pressure, test-fires ballistic missile

News Flash_2 29.04.17

A man watches a TV news program reporting about North Korea’s missile firing with a file footage in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, April 29, 2017.


SEOUL/UNITED NATIONS: North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile on Saturday, South Korea’s and U.S. militaries said, defying intense pressure from the United States and the reclusive state’s main ally, China. U.S. and South Korean officials said the test, from an area north of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, appeared to have failed, in what would be a fourth successive unsuccessful missile test since March. The test came as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the U.N. Security Council that failure to curb North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes could lead to “catastrophic consequences”. U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the missile was probably a medium-range weapon known as a KN-17 and appears to have broken up within minutes of taking off. South Korea’s military said the missile, fired from the Pukchang region in a northeasterly direction, reached an altitude of 71 km (44 miles) before disintegrating a few minutes into flight. The North has been conducting missile and nuclear weapons related activities at an unprecedented rate since the beginning of the year and is believed to have made some progress in developing intermediate-range and submarine-launched missiles.

Tension had spiked on the Korean peninsula over concern the North may conduct a long-range missile test, or its sixth nuclear test, around the time of the April 15 anniversary of its state founder’s birth, or the day marking the founding of its military this week. The timing of the launch suggested it was calculated to send a message as North Korea remained under the scrutiny of world powers, said Kim Dong-yub, an expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul. “It was planned at a complicated timing around the end of the South Korea-U.S. joint military drills, the United States talking about military options and the announcement of North Korea policies and the Security Council meeting,” Kim said. South Korean and U.S. forces have been conducting annual military drills since the beginning of March that conclude at the end of April. Kim said North Korea might have obtained the data it wanted with the missile’s short flight, then blown it up in the air. U.S. President Donald Trump told Reuters in an interview on Thursday North Korea was his biggest global challenge and a “major, major conflict” with it was possible over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. Trump said and he praised Chinese leader Xi Jinping for “trying very hard” to rein it in. “North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad,” Trump said in a post on Twitter after the launch. In a show of force, the United States is sending the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group to waters off the Korean peninsula, where it will join the USS Michigan, a nuclear submarine that docked in South Korea on Tuesday.


The Trump administration could respond to the latest missile test by speeding up its plans for new U.S. sanctions, including possible measures against specific North Korean and Chinese entities, a U.S. official told Reuters. “Something that’s ready to go could be taken from the larger package and expedited,” said the official, who declined to be identified. The launch could also give Trump leverage to press the Chinese to do more to rein in the North, the official added. Earlier, both China and Russia rebuked a U.S. threat of military force at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on North Korea. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the 15-member council it was not only up to China to solve the North Korean problem. “The key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese side,” Wang told the council in blunt remarks that Tillerson later rebuffed.

The U.N. Security Council is likely to start discussing a statement to condemn the missile launch, said diplomats, adding that it was unlikely to be issued on Friday. The Security Council traditionally condemns all missile launches by Pyongyang. Such routine condemnation and a series of sanctions resolutions since 2006, when North Korea conducted its first nuclear test, have done little to impede its push for ballistic missiles and nuclear arms. “It could have happened today exactly because we had the meeting,” Italian U.N. Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, chair of the Security Council’s North Korean sanctions committee, told reporters when hearing of the test. “It’s illegal, it should not be done, it’s another provocative action by North Korea”. Japan condemned the launch as absolutely unacceptable and a violation of U.N. resolutions. There was no immediate reaction from China.

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