News Flash – 29 January 2018

National News



One injured as fire breaks out in Goregaon

TOI Citizen Reporter Arul Fernando clicked the fire brigade men in action at the blaze site.



MUMBAI: A man sustained burn injuries after a fire broke out at Kama Industrial Estate in Goregaon (east) around 8am on Saturday. The injured, who suffered 3% burns, was shifted to a nearby BMC-run hospital before the fire brigade officials arrived. His condition is stable. Officials stated that the fire was confined to 25 galas most of them ground-plus one or ground-plus-mezzanine floor structures. They said that the fire spread quickly due to the presence of electric wirings, plastic material, scrap and household materials in the galas. It took almost five hours for the fire brigade to extinguish the blaze with the help of eight fire engines. Officials stated that the victim, Sanjay Ray, was rushed to hospital by locals. Fire brigade officials have asked the local BMC ward office, licence inspector and the police to check if there were any illegal alterations or violations of rules in the gutted structure.



Man vandalises Mumbai railway ticket office, act caught on CCTV

The booking office had to remain shut and commuters had to go to the another booking counter on the east side for tickets.



MUMBAI: A man broke into the railway ticket booking office at Bhayander (west) in the wee hours of Saturday and damaged equipment’s and furniture at the premises. The man entered the office with intention to steal cash. The act was captured on a CCTV installed in the premises. According to the official, the accused vandalised the office furniture as he could not find the cash. The break-in took place at around 2am. The booking office has three windows, one of whose glass pane was broken to gain entry. Blood stains were found on the broken glass panes indicating that the thief might have injured himself while either gaining entry or leaving the place. The matter came to light at around 6am when the staff reported to work. Papers were scattered around and the cables connecting the computers to the main server were damaged. The booking office had to remain shut and commuters had to go to the another booking counter on the east side for tickets. Railway officers said that cash is not kept in the booking office.



From March, 1.5 lakhs cams at 700 Delhi government schools under Rs 290 crore plan



NEW DELHI: To ensure safety of children in schools, the Delhi government will install close to 1.5 lakh CCTV cameras in 700 of its schools. The public works department (PWD) will float the tender for the Rs 290-crore project in a couple of days and the work will begin from March. Nearly 150-200 CCTVs will be installed in each school in consultation with the principals. Officials said parents would be given real-time access to CCTV feed to the classroom. “It is one of the main tender conditions. The contractor has to provide the facility to allow access to parents to see their children studying in the class on a real-time basis. Each parent will be given a login either on phone or computer to access the live feed,” said an official. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal recently held a review meeting with deputy CM and education minister Manish Sisodia, PWD minister Satyendar Jain and senior officials. Sources said it was decided to start the project at the earliest. Though PWD has floated the tenders, the work will be executed by Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC). DSIIDC, as a pilot project, had installed CCTVs in five government schools last year. Sources said PWD has been asked to assist in finalising the rate of contract due to its expertise in these large-scale projects.


“The work will be executed by DSIIDC in consultation with the school principals,” said Sarvagya Srivastava, engineer-in-chief, Delhi PWD. Sources said PWD would not work on the project due to shortage of manpower. The primary maintenance and day to day operations would be managed by DSIIDC. As part of the terms and condition of the contract, the contractor would have to provide basic maintenance for a period of five years, the official said. This is the second big CCTV project, which is one of AAP’s main election promises, taken up by the government. PWD had recently floated tenders for installing 1.4 lakh cameras in markets and residential colonies in the city. The government plans to install 2,000 cameras in each assembly constituency and has earmarked Rs 350 crore for the project. Though the tender for the Rs 350-crore project was floated in November 2017, PWD had to recall it following poor response. PWD officials said the deadline has been extended till January 30.



Post office Security Guard found murdered, robbery bid suspected



NEW DELHI: A security guard of a post office was murdered in Delhi’s Rohini Sector 7 on Saturday. An attempt was also made to break into the post office premises. The incident took place at around 7am. However, the reason behind the murder is yet to be ascertained. Police are investigating the matter.



Kolkata: Bombs hurled in Dum Dum



KOLKATA: Residents of Dum Dum‘s Rabindranagar woke up on Friday midnight to the noise of explosions as a group that allegedly owes allegiance to Trinamool Congress attempted to wrest control of a local club from CPM. According to a source, the violence was a culmination of a bitter battle to gain control of Deshbandhu Sporting Club in Rabindranagar-Sukantapally in Ward 1 of South Dum Dum Municipality. “The area still has a strong CPM presence and Manju Basu from the party is the councillor of the area. A group of locals owing allegiance to Trinamool is desperately trying to take control,” a resident said. The councilor’s husband, Jayanta, is associated with the club as a senior executive committee member. Locals said around 1.30am on Saturday some bike-borne goons hurled bombs at the club. “The noise woke up everyone and there was a panic in the area. Somebody in our locality is deliberately trying to create a ruckus to take control of the club,” said Jayanta Basu. Trinamool-run South Dum Dum municipality chairman Panchu Gopal Roy said the allegations were baseless. “Except the CPM councillor, all others in the locality are Trinamool supporters. So, why will anyone hurl bombs there?”. “We are yet to receive any complaint. Officers from Dum Dum PS have visited the spot and a probe is on,” said Barrackpore Commissionerate DCP (zone II) Dhrubajyoti De.



Tiny bot can detect cracks on rail lines, relay real-time alerts


Chennai: Nearly 2 lakh men patrol railway lines that traverse the length and breadth of the country to manually check for cracks and then repair them. Not only is this process cumbersome, it is deadly. Studies show that an average of 400 gangmen die every year in accidents, most hit by trains, while on duty. A small robot can now save these lives and help keep thousands of passengers safe by detecting cracks on rails to avert accidents. ‘Artemis’ the robot — developed by a team of students from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras — when fitted along a railway track, can detect cracks as small as 2cm with sensors and send out real-time data. The students designed the robot so it could work even when a train is running on the tracks. The team showcased the technology at the Inter-IIT Tech Meet 2018 that the institute hosted on its campus earlier this month. “We have developed a system that is fully automatic and sends out real-time data with accurate location of the crack for action needed. It cuts response time,” said Shashwat Sahoo, an IIT-M biotechnology student and a member of the team that made the robot. “It is cheap solution for Indian Railways — we used commonly available material to build the device,” he said. The lightweight, 1.5-foot-long robot with six wheels moves back and forth at 1m/second on the tracks. As it moves, the robot uses a simple technology to identify cracks and send out alerts.


Data tabled in Parliament last year showed that track defects cause nearly 40% of train accidents in the country — which makes the robot an invaluable tool. Sahoo said the ultrasonic and infrared sensors collect data from the tracks and send them to a microcontroller (microchip) inside the robot. A GPS module in the device reads the location and sends out data. The microcontroller works like a computer as it processes the information it receives and looks for an anomaly or a crack. When it identifies a crack, the microcontroller sends out an alert to a mobile phone via a SIM card (GSM) that is inserted at the start. “We eventually plan to have a central database to which the robot could send the data,” Sahoo said. As of now, the robot, which has received a provisional patent, has been tested on a dummy track on the IIT campus. Kavan Savla, another member of the group said, the team is planning to propose to the railways to provide it with a particular location where the robot can be tested and results procured. “We will attach solar panels to power the battery of the robot. Also, the robot has a modular design, so no technical expertise is required to change its components,” he said.



International News



Kabul on high alert after ambulance bomb toll tops 100


KABUL: Afghanistan on Sunday declared a day of national mourning as the toll for those killed by a huge bomb hidden in an ambulance in Kabul topped 100 people, sharply rising tensions after insurgents struck in the city for the second time in a week. At least 103 people were killed and 235 wounded in yesterday’s lunchtime attack claimed by the Taliban, which caused panic in the war-torn capital and overwhelmed its hospitals. Kabul remained on high alert as the presidential palace declared a national day of mourning for today, with flags flying at half-mast. The attack was one of the worst to strike the capital in recent years. Central Kabul was unusually quiet yesterday, a normal workday in Afghanistan, with little traffic and few people on the street. In contrast, security checkpoints have been beefed up, particularly in the streets near the blast scene, as the city braced for the possibility of further violence. A security alert issued on Sunday warned that the Islamic State group — which claimed a deadly attack on Save the Children’s office in Afghanistan’s east on Wednesday was planning to attack supermarkets and shops in Kabul frequented by foreigners. US President Donald Trump called for “decisive action” against the Taliban over the assault as other international leaders also condemned the attack. Afghan authorities gave an updated toll today for those killed and maimed in the huge blast. “Unfortunately a number of wounded people have died in hospital. The number of martyrs is now 103 and wounded is 235,” Interior Minister Wais Barmak told reporters.


Health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh told reporters earlier today that most of the injured were men. Ordinary Afghans took to social media to express their anguish and sorrow at rapidly worsening security as the Taliban and IS militants step up attacks on Kabul , turning it into one of the deadliest places in Afghanistan for civilians. “We are so heartbroken in Kabul that we don’t know how to start our new day,” Freshta Karim wrote on Twitter. “Shall we stay home or go to work, shall we meet our friends and cry or shall we force ourselves to create an illusion of hope? How are you starting your day in Kabul?”. Naser Danesh tweeted: “In Kabul starting a day without explosion, it would be a surprise. One could only imagine that kind of a day”. On Facebook, Naweed Qaderi wrote: “It is a big shame for the government, they repeatedly fail to protect people. The leaders must lose a son or daughter to feel the pain of poor people”. The blast happened in a crowded area of the city where several high-profile organisations including the European Union have offices. The force of the explosion shook the windows of buildings hundreds of metres away and caused some low-rise structures in the immediate vicinity to collapse. The scene of the attack was scattered with body parts, blood and debris. Children were among the wounded. The government has blamed the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network, which Afghan and Western officials suspect of involvement in at least some of the recent attacks in the capital.


The suicide bomber passed through at least one checkpoint in the ambulance, saying he was taking a patient to Jamhuriat hospital, an interior ministry spokesman said yesterday. “At the second checkpoint he was recognised and blew (up) his explosive-laden car,” Nasrat Rahimi said. Rahimi told a news conference later that most of the victims were civilians. Four suspects had been arrested. The attack came exactly a week after Taliban insurgents stormed Kabul ‘s landmark Intercontinental hotel and killed at least 25 people, the majority foreigners. But there is still confusion over the true toll from that attack with conflicting figures given by officials and Afghan media reporting higher numbers. Some foreign organisations are reassessing their presence in Afghanistan following the spate of deadly violence. The Aga Khan Foundation is moving its foreign staff out of the country, several sources told AFP. At least one Western humanitarian group is relocating its foreign staff to other cities in Afghanistan, a source said.



Nearly 1,500 evacuated in Paris region as rising Seine poses flood risk

River Seine in Paris



PARIS: Nearly 1,500 people have been evacuated from homes in the Paris region, with authorities on alert for any major flood risk after the levels of the swollen River Seine rose further on Sunday. Michel Delpuech, head of the Paris police body, told reporters that around 1,500 people had been moved out of homes in the Ile de France region comprising the French capital and its suburbs. “The waters will only go away slowly,” added Delpuech. The Seine’s waters were set to peak later on Sunday or early on Monday close to levels which led to similar flooding in 2016, authorities said. The overflowing waters have already engulfed riverside walkways in Paris and led the world-famous Louvre museum to close a basement display of Islamic art. Paris’s “Bateaux Mouches” tourist boats have been shut down due to the high waters while swans have been seen swimming where there are usually pavements and rats forced up onto the streets. Flooding caused destruction in Paris in 1910 when the Seine rose by 8.65 metres, although no deaths were recorded there.



7 rescued from life raft in Pacific Ocean after ferry sank



WELLINGTON: Six adults and an unconscious baby were rescued Sunday from a life raft in the Pacific Ocean after drifting for four days in the blazing sun without water. The survivors had scrambled onto the small wooden dinghy after the ferry they were aboard sank, according to authorities. New Zealand Defence Force Air Commodore Darryn Webb said the crew on a military Orion plane had used radar to locate the dinghy while searching for survivors. He said the ferry had been carrying at least 50 people while traveling between two islands in the remote nation of Kiribati. Webb said there has been no sign of any other survivors. He said it wasn’t clear yet what caused the ferry to sink. The plane dropped supplies to the survivors including food, water and a radio, Webb said. The survivors used the radio to tell rescuers they’d managed to get off the ferry when it capsized and climb aboard the dinghy, he said. Webb said the survivors had very little time to react and found themselves adrift without water or an engine. He said they did have a blanket or tarpaulin which they may have been able to use to get some relief from the sun. Webb said a fishing boat had changed its course and picked up the survivors Sunday afternoon. He said the dinghy was drifting more than 180 kilometers (112 miles) from the nearest major island when it was found. “Our heart goes out to the baby and to all those remaining of the 50-plus people,” he said.


While thankful the life raft was found, Webb said it was also heartbreaking the ferry had sunk and the others were still missing. He said there was a lot of debris near the dinghy, which may have been from the ferry. Searchers planned to regroup and interview the survivors before deciding whether to continue the search, he added. Questions remain as to why it took Kiribati authorities so long to tell New Zealand officials the ferry was missing. Webb said a Kiribati plane had earlier searched for the ferry but didn’t have sophisticated radar equipment. Named the MV Butiraoi, the 17.5-metre (57-foot) wooden catamaran left Nonouti Island bound for South Tarawa on Jan. 18, according to authorities. The journey was supposed to take two days. New Zealand rescuers say they weren’t told about the missing boat until Friday, eight days after the ferry had left. Senior Search and Rescue Officer John Ashby said they’d been told the ferry underwent repairs to its propeller shaft just before leaving, which may have contributed to navigation problems. Kiribati is a remote, impoverished nation of 33 atolls that is home to about 108,000 people.



At least 10 Malian soldiers killed in attack on camp: Officials



BAMAKO: At least 10 Malian soldiers were killed on Saturday in an attack on their camp in the restive north blamed on jihadists, military sources and a local official told AFP. The camp in Soumpi, Timbuktu region, was targeted this morning by armed men, they said. “Ten of our men were killed in action this Saturday during a cowardly terrorist attack on the Soumpi camp. There are 17 wounded,” a military source reached in Bamako told AFP. The local official confirmed the death toll of the attack, and said five wounded men were transferred to the town of Niafunke for medical treatment. A foreign military source described the attack as “complex”, adding there were “several victims”. Mali’s deteriorating security situation is of growing concern as Al-Qaida-linked groups mount increasingly deadly attacks on domestic and foreign forces. The latest attack comes two days after 26 civilians including mothers and babies were killed when their vehicle ran over a landmine in Boni, central Mali, according to a UN death toll.

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