News Flash – 4 October 2017

National News



2017 sees highest dengue deaths in 5 years



MUMBAI: The dengue outbreak that swept across the city in September has claimed 12 lives of which six were pediatric patients aged between 2 and 16 years. With this, the city’s dengue death toll for the year has touched 14, making it the highest in the last five years. Deaths this year have nearly tripled when compared with 2016 when the casualty count was five. The last time a double-digit death figure was reported was in 2014 when 12 lives were lost to the viral infection. Around 705 confirmed cases of dengue have been reported this year, of which 412 were detected in September alone. As per the civic report, there were 3,721 admissions to various BMC hospitals last month. A civic official told TOI that a majority of the deaths and admissions were reported in the beginning of the last two weeks of September. Nine of the 12 deaths happened between September 15 and 30. “However, the deaths of so many pediatric patients have been intriguing. It was discussed with several experts though there doesn’t seem to be a single cause responsible,” said the official, adding the dengue cases have started declining. The youngest among the deceased was a two-year-old boy from Andheri who had fever for four days along with convulsions at his home. He died in one of the public hospitals. Another casualty among young children was a 10year-old boy from Dadar who was admitted to a private hospital with a healthy platelet count of 1.3lakh. However, as per the civic report, the boy was shifted to a public hospital in a critical condition when his platelets had dropped to 10,000. He passed away on September 19.


Among the deceased were also four teenagers from Santacruz, Kurla, Dharavi and Agripada, of which two were also battling tuberculosis. The 14-year-old boy from Santacruz, who was treated in a private hospital, was undergoing treatment for multidrug resistant tuberculosis. The 16-year-old boy from Dharavi too had MDR-TB. Infectious disease consultant Dr Om Srivastava said all infections end up playing with immunity and the immune system ultimately decides how to respond to treatment, comorbidity and complications. “It is a little premature to assume whether dengue TB are going to follow defined responses and requires a more detailed evaluation,” he added. The other victims of dengue were a 30-year-old man from Goregaon and a 57year-old woman from Kurar. The latter was also a known case of hypertension. During the four months of monsoon, dengue has contributed to nearly 8,000 hospital admissions in the public sector alone. Leptospirosis too claimed the life of a 32-year-old man from Chinchpokli. The patient seems to have taken symptomatic treatment. Two cases of cholera were also detected in September from C and F north ward.



Delhi Police’s official voice will now move traffic too



NEW DELHI: In a significant reshuffle, the city got a new traffic chief on Tuesday after lieutenant governor Anil Baijal approved the appointment of 1990-batch IPS officer Dependra Pathak for the post. The post of traffic chief had fallen vacant after Ajay Kashyap was transferred as director general of Tihar Jail last week. Pathak, also the chief spokesperson for the force, was earlier serving as the special commissioner of operations in Delhi Police. Pathak will be expected to take some drastic measures and revamp the unit significantly. Removing bottlenecks on major arterial roads and streamlining parking on encroached stretches will be a major challenge. An academic, Pathak has a master degree in chemistry from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and an MPhil in environmental sciences from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). He is often considered a hard task master. Having a science background, he is expected to speed up the integration of the intelligent traffic management system that has been in the pipeline for the past few years. Speaking to TOI, Pathak said, “Our priority will be to maintain a high degree of strategic presence and alertness. With guidance from the LG and CP, Delhi, the traffic unit will focus on effective prosecution and use of technology. There will be participation of all stakeholders and citizens towards effective traffic management”.


During 2013 – 15, Pathak served as the joint commissioner (general administration) and ensured transparency and satisfaction among the lower constabulary. He was then posted as joint commissioner of southwestern range before being appointed the special commissioner of operation. He conceptualised the Parakram commando patrol vans and revamped ‘Dial 100’, communication and PCR units. Also on Tuesday, 1991-batch IPS officer R P Upadhyay was posted as special commissioner of the Crime Branch. Upadhyay was earlier serving as joint commissioner of southeastern range. Before that, he had stints as IG, Chandigarh and additional director in enforcement directorate. Upadhyay will get to head a recently revamped Crime Branch. Those who have worked under him say he monitors important investigations himself and makes sure the case reaches its logical end. Another member on the reshuffle list was 1993-batch IPS officer Praveer Ranjan, who was given Upadhyay’s post. Ranjan will be heading the south and southeast districts and will report to special commissioner (law & order, south) P Kamraj.



Elphinstone stampede: Did ‘phool gir gaya’ cry set off ‘bridge is falling’ panic?



MUMBAI: One of the survivors of the Elphinstone Road station stampede, 19-year-old Shilpa Vishwakarma, told the railway inquiry panel on Tuesday that the tragedy may have been triggered by panic that set in after some commuters mistook the word “phool” (flower in both Hindi and Marathi) for “pul” (bridge in both Hindi and Marathi). Vishwakarma, who said she was stuck in the middle of the staircase on Friday as the crowds on the stairs and the bridge rapidly swelled, told the panel that a flower-seller had slipped on the stairs and said loudly, “Phool gir gaya”. “Some heard it as ‘pul’ (bridge) and thought the bridge had fallen,” she said. In the chaos that followed, Vishwakarma, an Elphinstone Road resident who was trying to go up the stairs as she wanted to board a train to attend coaching classes in Vile Parle, fell and was trampled on by some people but was immediately pulled out by a man in the crowd. He however died, Vishwakarma said. Vishwakarma herself suffered injuries to her hands, legs, back and stomach. She was rushed by locals to KEM Hospital but was discharged the same evening. The three-member probe panel headed by Western Railway’s chief security officer began its inquiry into the stampede on Monday. Vishwakarma was the only survivor to appear before it on the first day. Railway staffers deputed at Elphinstone Road gave their statements, and an ordinary Mumbaikar too had turned up to offer his suggestions. The probe will continue, with the committee asking WR officials to visit KEM Hospital to record statements of those injured who are still there.


Describing the scene on the bridge just before tragedy struck, Vishwakarma told TOI, “While I was caught in the middle of the staircase, there was pressure from the top (from the bridge) as well as from below (the exit) as many commuters did not want to get out of the station because of the rain. Many women were decked in traditional attire for Navaratri and were reluctant to get wet”. Dadar police, who are conducting their own inquiry into the matter, have recorded statements of around 20 witnesses so far. Four witnesses have corroborated Vishwakarma’s theory about the cause of the stampede, said an officer. Police are yet to reach any conclusion though, as more witness statements are to be recorded. They also are studying videos shot by passengers. Meanwhile, multidisciplinary audit teams comprising officials from the railways, BMC and security agencies visited many stations on WR and Central Railway to identify problems and suggest solutions to commuter hardships. Railway minister Piyush Goyal had ordered the audit during the safety review he conducted during the weekend. WR has set up 5 teams and the CR 8 for the purpose. Both will submit their report by October 8. A WR spokesperson said, “13 stations — Churchgate, Marine Lines, Matunga Road, Mahim, Vile Parle, Andheri, Jogeshwari, Goregaon, Bhayander, Naigaon, Virar, Palghar and Dahanu — were inspected by these audit teams during the morning and evening peak hours.” On CR, the team visited 8 stations: Parel, Dadar, Currey Road, Thane, Kalva, Diva, Kopar and Thakurli.



3 youths clicking selfies on track run over by Mysuru train

Mysuru-bound Gol Gumbaz Express ran over the three.



BENGALURU: Two pre-university students and their former college mate were run over by a train while they were taking selfies on the tracks near Bidadi in Ramanagara district on Tuesday. The victims have been identified as P Prabhu Anand, 18, a second-year PU student of National College, Basavanagudi, and resident of Koramangala’s Ambedkar Colony; his college mate Rohit Joseph, 16, a first-year PU student and resident of Someshwaranagar in Hulimavu; and their friend Prateek Raikar, 20, a private company employee and resident of Banashankari II Stage. They were part of a 15 member group of bikers headed to Wonderla amusement park in Bidadi, about 30km from Bengaluru. They stopped on the way to buy swimwear, and that’s when the idea of taking selfies took them to the railway tracks. While the rest of them had entered the amusement park, the three stopped at Manchanayakana Halli railway gate to buy swimming trunks from a shop. Prabhu, Rohit and Prateek stopped their two bikes again and walked towards the railway tracks around 9.40am, police said. According to railway police, the three were taking selfies lying across one of the two tracks when the Mysuru-bound Gol Gumbaz Express ran over them. “It’s a double-line section and the three were lying on one track and were taking selfies as the Bengaluru bound Chamundi Express passed by on the other track. Busy clicking pictures with Chamundi Express in the background, they failed to hear the horn of the approaching Gol Gumbaz Express which mowed them down,” the railway police said. The bodies of three youths, who were taking selfies on a railway track near Bidadi, about 30km from Bengaluru, on Tuesday morning, were scattered across a 30-ft area, according to police.


“The bodies were mutilated and more than 80 pieces of the bodies of three youths lay scattered over a distance of 30 feet, some parts had to be picked from thick shrubs next to the tracks,” a police officer added. Railway police, along with the Bidadi police, took more than two hours to collect the scattered body parts. “Two of the three bodies are beyond recognition. The train travelling at 90kmph dragged their bodies over a distance of 30 feet. Their body parts were scattered across 193 sleepers,” a police officer said. Manohar G, a relative of Prabhu Anand, who died in the accident, told police the families were aware of the boys’ visit to Wonderla. “They had left home on Tuesday morning. Around 11.30am, the Bidadi police informed us about the accident,” he said. “Prabhu and Prateek Raikar had lost their father Prakash and Poornachandra, respectively, a few years ago. The three youths had no siblings. Their mothers work with a private company to educate them,” he said. Rohit’s father Joseph is a cab driver. With the mobile phones of all the three destroyed in the accident, the police have a tough time to conclude the accident occurred when they were taking selfies. Ramanagara SP Ramesh Banoth said they haven’t reached a conclusion yet they were taking selfies at the time of the accident. “But we have not found any other purpose behind their visit to railway tracks,” he said. On September 24, Vishwas G, 17, also a student of National College, had drowned in a pond when his friends were busy clicking selfies. He had gone on a picnic with his fellow NCC cadets to Ravagondlu Betta near Kanakapura, Ramanagara, 40km from Bengaluru. One of the pictures captured the boy drowning, while his friends struck poses for the camera.


TIMES VIEW: The craze for selfies among youths seems to be getting crazier despite many paying with their lives in pursuit of the perfect picture. Whether you are out on your morning jog, driving to work or standing in a queue, at least one person around is clicking a selfie – the mania seems to be reaching new depths. Though selfie deaths in India are the highest in the world, sadly, we haven’t learnt any lessons. There is an urgent need to make young person’s aware that their life is worth much more than risking their lives for mundane selfies.



Hyderabad cloudburst: Important things to know


Hyderabad: Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has termed the deluge an ’emergency situation,’ and has requested citizens “not to step out unless it is very important”. The sudden downpour has led to cab fares skyrocketing. “The @UberINSupport why during rain your fair (fare) has increased over 300 percent in Hyderabad,” tweeted resident Naseer Giyas. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has warned those living in dilapidated structures to evacuate immediately to avoid tragedies arising from possible building collapses. Traffic police, too, have warned people to not venture out of their homes, unless faced with an emergency. The city is witnessing traffic snarls in various areas, including Tolichowki, Chaderghat, Amberpet T junction, Langer House Road. Horse races scheduled for Tuesday stand cancelled as the heavy rain has rendered the track in conducive for racing. Several colonies in the Secunderabad Cantonment and those abutting Ramannakunta were inundated, even as Patny nala and Ramannakunta overflowed and sewer water entered nearly 15 apartment complexes at Paigah Colony and Vimannagar Colony. Panic-stricken residents of low-lying areas in Secunderabad, Uttam Nagar in Safilguda, Bhoiguda, Lower Tank Bund, Bahadurpura, Malkajgiri and Malakpet, requested the authorities to provide them boats. GHMC commissioner B Janardhan Reddy has ordered the deployment of 140 monsoon action teams and immediate action to shift residents to safer places. The GHMC is preparing food packets to send them to people stuck in inundated areas. “Over 5,000 food packets are being prepared. They will reach flood-hit people by Tuesday morning,” a top official has said.



Police use humour to warn traffic offenders


KOLKATA: Laughter could be the best medicine for erratic drivers, believes the Kolkata traffic police. It is ready with a unique campaign -a series of cartoons -that identify and categorise driving offences. Humour could be the perfect tool for managing conflicts and reducing tension when emotions are running high on the road, it was felt. So, the new campaign, after a series of innovative campaigns in the previous years, aims to drive home points by tickling the funny bone. According to the campaign, the city has 12 kinds of drivers who disobey rules. They are -a Pilot, who thinks he is flying a car, a Fully Loaded, who always overloads, a Guru, a typical auto driver who wants only a little space to wriggle out of a snarl, a Road Blocker, an old is gold motorist who refuses to dump his old rickety car that often breaks down. Then there are the weird motorists like a Thoku who keeps ramming other vehicles. If they don’t find other vehicles, they will just ram a lamp post. A Honker will honk without reason. A Tortoise refuses to accelerate even if the road is free leaving a long queue of cars behind him. While a Wanderer is the one who often takes uncharted territory to make a shortcut or to discover a new road, a Back-Seat driver is one who keeps instructing his driver, leaving him utterly confused.


The night owl is the most dangerous motorist, who takes to the wheel in an inebriated state. Once caught, he may drop names to wriggle out of trouble. Then there is the Young Blood or the learner. They tend to treat the `L’ sign dangling on the windscreen as a licence to collide. There are catchy captions with each cartoon. For instance, the Guru always shouts `Ik Bajoo Hat’. The Old is Gold sings `Pehla Car Pehla Pyar’. The Thoku keeps saying `Sorry Bhaiya.’ The principle of Tortoise is simple: he only competes with himself. The Night Owl only says, `Tu Janta Nahi Mein Kaun Hu’. Humour draws attention and can also help you get past conflicts, disagreements and tiny aggravations that can build up over time and wreck even the strongest of bonds, said Anubrata Bhattacharya, a social scientist.



Dengue goes viral in Tamil Nadu…Health professionals ask patients to seek medical attention


Tamil Nadu is seeing an unprecedented number of fever cases, which include malaria, dengue and other forms of viral fever. With several cases of dengue being reported in the city, Chennai Times talks to medical experts to find out what precautions to take to avoid infection, and what are the remedies. Experts say that the spurt in the number of fever cases is due to the increased activity of viruses. “Viruses are always there in the air. But when the temperature dips, it provides a conducive environment for them to thrive,” says U Radha, a health worker. For the past two years, the city has witnessed a huge change in climate, and in the last few days, the temperature had dropped considerably in the nights. The cool temperature helps the virus multiply in large numbers, she says. “These viruses attack those who are immune-compromised and they catch the infection fast. Kids, pregnant women, aged people and those who have health issues fall sick with viral fever,” says Dr M Arunachalam, a consultant physician and member of Tamil Nadu’s Crisis Management Committee. Ask him about dengue, and he says, “Dengue fever is caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes. If untreated, it can lead to complications and even death. If you look at the numbers — of the 10 cases of fever reported, two have been diagnosed as dengue. It has become widespread now”.


Elaborating on the symptoms, he says, “If someone is suffering from fever, joint pain, headache, reddish eyes, red upper palate and rashes, they should immediately seek medical help. Even if rashes or other symptoms are not visible patients should consult a medical practitioner if the fever persists for more than 24 hours”. While hospitals are advised by the Tamil Nadu Government’s Health Department on the protocol for the treatment of dengue, Arunachalam says that physicians are advising complete blood count (CBC) test to determine each case as a precautionary measure. “If the platelet count is less than 1,50,000, we carry out the test for dengue. However, if the platelet count is below 50,000, the patients are immediately referred to government hospitals for further management,” he says. While there are no antibiotics or a drug of choice that can cure dengue, the treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms. He says, “In addition to giving fever medications, it is important to monitor the patients and look for hemorrhagic symptoms, which include bleeding from the gums, bleeding or reddishness of the upper palate of the mouth, red-coloured urine and black-coloured stools. If any of these symptoms are seen, patients need to be given blood transfusion.” As hemorrhage can lead to failure of respiratory and multiple organs, proper diagnosis and treatment are important, he adds. Dengue complications may occur after the fever subsides and hence dengue positive patients are discharged after three days of the disappearance of fever. “We alert the patient and relatives to immediately report back to the hospital if there are any signs of relapse, “he adds.


As regards the prevention, he says, “The virus is spread by Aedes egypti, a type of mosquito, which grows in clear water. Water kept uncovered is the breeding ground for mosquitoes. Simple acts like keeping the water containers closed will help reduce their growth and the spread of the disease”. Physicians who practice alternative medicine say that patients can take nilavembu kashyam to speed up recovery. “While it has not been scientifically proven that it can increase the platelet count, there is no harm in taking it,” opines Arunachalam. Dr Gowthaman, an Ayurvedic medicine practitioner, says that dengue is mentioned in Ayurvedic texts, and was prevalent even 5,000 years ago. While Ayurveda doesn’t go by the platelet count to find out dengue, the diagnosis is based on the symptoms. “We don’t call it dengue, but address it as vatha kapha jwaram. Reddened eyes, puffy nose, fever with chills and urinary tract infection-like symptoms (an urge to pass urine frequently without any burning sensation) and black or red-coloured urine are typical to the fever. We prescribe kandankathri kashayam, which has just three ingredients, but is very effective in the management of the disease,” he informs. In addition to treating dengue in the short term, the medicine is given to patients for a period of up to three to six months, depending on the diagnosis. “Depending on the health of the patient, we prescribe it for a longer term. This is to ensure that the patient is healthy to resume all his normal activities,” he says. Ask him whether a dengue patient can take the kashayam along with other medications, and he says, “It’s perfectly alright to take it along with other medications, if any. It’s like including vegetables in your diet. While it addresses the disease, it will not have any adverse effect on the medications you take”.


Fact file:

Dengue fever is a vector-borne disease caused by mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus. The virus is transmitted from one person to another by the bites of infected female mosquitoes. These mosquitoes can be spotted by the white spots on their legs. The mosquitoes breed in clear water

Dengue mosquitoes can breed only in clear water

Do not keep water containers open as they can attract mosquitoes to breed

Do not accumulate old tyres, water tanks, tubes, plastic containers, etc. as they act as breeding grounds for the mosquitoes

Eliminate all mosquito breeding sites and prevent water-logging in in and around your home

Clean water tanks frequently and keep all water reservoirs fully covered.


If you’re suffering from fever:

Do not assume symptoms and self-medicate

Do not wait till symptoms manifest. Always see a doctor immediately if dengue symptoms are suspected and do a dengue diagnosis test

Dengue fever can sometimes lead to the more dangerous forms of the disease known as dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome, which, can be fatal

Patients should take lots of fluids regularly to stay hydrated as dengue causes dehydration

Loss of plasma cells is an important symptom of dengue. Eat immunity-boosting fruits, and drink fruit juices rich in vitamin C

Monitor the patient for more than two days to a week, even after symptoms disappear.



International News



Day after Las Vegas carnage, fear and loathing across America


WASHINGTON: Authorities found an arsenal of weapons that would have wowed a military commando in the 32nd floor Las Vegas hotel suite from where 64-year old Stephen Paddock rained down automatic fire at a Sunday night music concert massacring 59 people and injuring over 500. But they haven’t found a motive, aside from determining he was a millionaire high-rolling gambler of considerable means, owning homes in four states, and two small planes and a flying license, among other assets. Paddock was not the typical mass shooter; in fact, his age now ranks him as the oldest – aside from deadliest and possibly wealthiest – mass shooter in US history among other “records” he has established, including a death toll of 59. He also became the first shooter to use what was said to be a semi- or fully-automatic weapon of the AK-47 kind, which he modified to fire faster+ and mounted on a dipod or tripod to steady his shooting. The height from which he shot at a densely packed concert below also resulted in higher casualties, and but for the fact that his relentless firing caused the smoke alarm in his room to go off and enabled police to pinpoint his location, he might have killed even more. Besides the 24-weapon armory found in his hotel room, authorities located 19 more guns at his home – all legally purchased. News of his stockpile, and the ease with which he carried the arsenal into the hotel (reportedly in ten suitcases) triggered off alarm on several aspects, including hotel security, except the ease with which guns can be procured in America.


The latest carnage further sundered the fragile bonds of the “United” States, with stateside liberals completely at odds with gun enthusiasts, predominantly from middle and rural America, who hold the Right to Bear arms dear to their heart and way of life. Liberals, chafing at numbers that show more than one mass shooting a day in America, say the country is being held hostage by an economically backward and intellectually regressive rural base that call the electoral shots, so much so that it controls Washington and the White House without winning a majority popular vote. Pro-gun Republicans and conservatives continued to insist that guns are not the problem, sick people are, and some administration officials and Trump supporters maintained now was not the time to argue about gun laws. President Trump called Paddock “a sick man, a demented man,” and held out some vague promise of gun reform. “We will be talking about gun laws as time goes by,” he said as he prepared to leave Washington for hurricane-battered Puerto Rico. The gun lobby supported Trump in the Presidential elections, and more than once he promised the Second Amendment – which allows the right to bear arms – is “very very safe” with him. He also became the first President after Ronald Reagan to speak at the annual conference of the National Rifle Association (NRA), which spend $50 million to support him against Hillary Clinton.


Family members however told authorities that Paddock had no religious or ideological affiliations, nor did he have any gamble debt that could have cost him to lose it. He could have lost a million dollars and could still live well, they said. In fact, he lived in hotel rooms attached to casino properties months at a time for professional gambling reasons, and it was not usual for him to bet big, wagering thousands of dollars in a sitting. Such accounts drew attention to yet another little-reported American problem – addiction to gambling and lotteries. Paddock’s father was a convicted bank robber who was once on the FBI’s most-wanted list, but Stephen Paddock stayed out of trouble and had no scrapes with the law. “If you told me an asteroid fell into Earth, it would mean the same to me. There’s absolutely no sense, no reason he did this,” his brother Eric Paddock told the media outside his home in Orlando. “He’s just a guy who played video poker and took cruises and ate burritos at Taco Bell. There’s no political affiliation that we know of. There’s no religious affiliation that we know of”.



US-led strike kills 18 civilians in Syria’s Raqa: Monitor


BEIRUT: A US-led coalition air strike killed at least 18 civilians on Tuesday in the Islamic State group’s former stronghold of Raqa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said. “International coalition planes targeted water wells where a group of civilians were gathered in the north of Raqa city, killing at least 18 civilians,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said. The Britain-based group said four children were among the dead. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, broke into Raqa in June and has since wrested 90 per cent of the city from IS. But activists say coalition strikes in support of the operation have killed hundreds of civilians and caused enormous damage. The coalition says it takes “extraordinary care” to avoid civilian casualties in its strikes and that it investigates credible claims of civilian deaths. In late September, the coalition acknowledged the deaths of 735 civilians in its strikes on Syria and Iraq since 2014. But activists say the toll is much higher. Raqa has faced water shortages for months because of damage to pipelines caused by suspected coalition strikes. Even in the early days of the Raqa assault, residents said they feared being caught in air strikes or shelling when they ventured to wells or the Euphrates River that runs south of the city to draw water.

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