News Flash – 30 May 2019

National News



100 Girls Narrowly Escape Blaze at West Delhi Hostel

The fire started at the electricity meter board and spread across the basement and the ground floor.



New Delhi: Less than a week after 20 lives were lost in a fire in a coaching centre in Surat, another tragedy was averted when almost 100 girl students narrowly escaped the blaze in their hostel in west Delhi’s Janakpuri in the early hours of Wednesday. A combined team of Delhi Fire Service and Delhi Police conducted the rescue operation. Chief Fire Officer Atul Garg said that the incident at Kaveri Girl’ Hostel was reported to the fire service at 3:05am. The fire had begun at the electricity meter board on the ground floor. As the flames spread across the basement and ground floor, a security guard noticed them and alerted the occupants of the building, including more than 100 students of private institutions preparing for engineering and medical entrance examinations. “We were woken up by the wardens and screaming people amid an acrid smell of smoke,” said a Karnal resident. “Many of the girls gathered in the balcony because the staircase was covered in smoke.” There was some panic because the main gate of the house was found jammed and local residents tried to break down the iron gates.



Luckily, just a day earlier, a police team had inspected the coaching centre buildings in the area and the hostel staff had installed fire safety equipment, which proved handy in containing the spread of the blaze. The fire was contained to the staircase and ground floor, with no significant damage to the building structure. The cooling operation continued till dawn. Forensic experts have collected evidence, and an early probe hinted at the blaze starting due to overloading of the circuit. The doors and windows on the first floor of the building have been sealed with plywood sheets. Fire officials said some students were trapped on the first floor and jumped down from the balcony to the security guard’s cabin. All the occupants were successfully evacuated in a 45-minute operation when rescue teams conducted a room-by-room search. Six girls were taken to a private hospital nearby after inhaling smoke. They were later discharged after treatment. The families of the students were informed about the fire in the hostel and many later reached Janakpuri to take their kids back home. “I received a phone call at 4am that there had been an accident in the hostel,” disclosed a businessman from Yamuna Nagar in Haryana who had two daughters staying in the hostel. “We don’t have a choice other than to send our kids to these hostels. I wish they took adequate measures to prevent hazards of this sort. I am only thankful that there was no loss of lives”.



Many students and parents that TOI spoke to avoided discussing anything about the incident, saying they would otherwise face repercussions from the hostel. When contacted, many of the private institutes running from the same lane as the hostel claimed to have no relation with the hostel. They said they had left their students free to choose their accommodation. However, the parents and students contradicted this by revealing that the hostel was recommended to them by the institutes in their brochures. Police officers said that they had held a meeting with the teaching institutes, the hostel and house owners offering paying guest accommodation to students on Monday and directed them to enhance the fire safety infrastructure. Acting on this, on Tuesday the hostel installed fire extinguishers, which proved their usefulness within 24 hours. A South Delhi Municipal Corporation official later said the civic body hasn’t received the official report on the Janakpuri hostel fire. “The PG accommodations and hostels are not required to acquire a general trade licence as technically they are categorised as ‘rented residential properties’,” the official said.



Heatwave Alert in almost Half of India


Pune: Almost half of India has been put on heatwave alert, with severe heatwaves expected in Vidarbha, west Rajasthan and possibly in east UP as well as east MP, in the next couple of days. Heatwave warnings were issued for Wednesday in as many as 16 of the 36 meteorological subdivisions, while 15 subdivisions were alerted for possible heatwave on Thursday. This heatwave spell is among the strongest this summer and is expected to continue till June 2 in several parts of the country, including Vidarbha, the worst hit region. Chandrapur in Vidarbha recorded this summer’s highest temperature so far, with the mercury touching 48°C on Wednesday. Anupam Kashyapi of IMD, Pune, termed the ongoing heatwave one of the strongest so far this season. “The country witnessed the last strong heatwave this summer during late April. The current spell is almost similar in its magnitude and spread, though only slightly less severe,” he said. Temperatures are rising in most of north India as well. “Dry loo winds from the deserts of west Rajasthan and Sindh (Pakistan) are raising temperatures in north India, including Delhi-NCR. Mayend and early June anyway correspond to the hottest period of the year in this region due to the sun being directly overhead,” said a met official.



Banda in Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkh and region was the hottest town in north India, recording 47.2 degrees C on Wednesday. IMD officials said that the ongoing weak El Nino conditions may also be playing their part in ensuring higher than normal temperatures. Kashyapi said, “One of the main factors causing the heat build-up is the sky conditions. Clear skies cause the solar radiation to hit the earth directly, without hindrance.” D S Pai, head, Climate Research and Services, IMD, said, “Presence (or absence) of clouds can be influenced by several factors outside the country like an El Nino, La Nina or cyclones, as well as local conditions”. Vidarbha seems to have been affected the most by the ongoing heatwave situation. IMD’s colour-coded warnings show the subdivision in red till May 30, the only region marked in that colour. A “red alert” is an indication for authorities and other stakeholders to “take action” regarding an extreme weather event. Several locations in Vidarbha crossed the 45°C mark on Wednesday. A heatwave warning for May 30 has also been issued for some parts over west MP, east Rajasthan, Marathwada and isolated pockets over Telangana, Rayalaseema, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Maharashtra, Haryana, Delhi, west UP, Bihar and Jharkhand.



Panic as Fire Breaks out at KIA’s F&B Outlet



Bengaluru: A fire broke out on Kempegowda International Airport (KIA)campus on Wednesday morning, causing panic among passengers and employees. Sources said the fire occurred at a food and beverage outlet (F&B) on the airport premises around 5.45am and is suspected to have caused by a short circuit. However, there were no causalities or disruptions to flight operations due to the incident. “There was a fire-related incident at a food and beverage outlet, away from the terminal, at the Bengaluru airport campus in the early hours of Wednesday. None was injured in the incident and it has had no impact on airport operations,” said Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), which operates the airport, in a statement. “An in-depth fire safety audit is being carried out. The affected area has been cordoned off and temporarily closed,” it stated. BIAL officials, however, refused to divulge the cause of the fire or the extent of damage. A video of the accident uploaded on social media has gone viral.

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