News Flash – 4 October 2018

National News



Mumbai airport to be closed for 6 hours on October 23 for runway work



Mumbai: Mumbai Airport will be shut for six hours on October 23 and then for three days every week from February 7 to March 30 next year for runway maintenance. Nearly 250 flights have been cancelled by airlines due to the closure. Passengers booked on evening flights those days could expect delays. Frequent flyers and those who typically buy tickets less than 24-48 hours in advance could be hit as last-minute airfares, especially on routes like Mumbai-Delhi, Mumbai-Bangalore and Mumbai-Kochi are expected to go up. Maintenance and repairs will be carried out on the portion that covers the intersection of cross runways. In February, March work on the intersection will be carried out from 11am-5pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, except on March 21. Airfares on routes out of Mumbai are already high during the current peak travel season. “However, since February and March happen to be lean seasons for travel, the impact would not be as high as say, had the closure been carried out in April-May,” said an aviation official. An airline official said, “On high-demand routes like Mumbai-Delhi, the fares would be high. It will hit frequent flyers the most as they typically buy last-minute tickets, which will be priced higher on these days,” said an airline official. “In fact on certain routes, there might be no last-minute tickets available for purchase, say five to six hours before the scheduled time of departure,” he added. An air traffic control official said, “Since Mumbai airport is congested, airlines have been forced to cancel flights scheduled during the closure timings. It’s not possible to accommodate these flights before or after the closure as the airport already handles close to 50 arrivals/ departures in an hour”.



Sparks from electric pole in Byculla trigger panic opposite fire brigade HQ


Mumbai: A huge spark from an electric pole in Byculla triggered panic among motorists during evening peak hour on Wednesday. No one was injured. Passers-by said that a “heavy” spark from the electric pole near the Khada Parsi statue slowed down traffic at the busy junction, right across the city’s fire headquarters around 7 pm. TOI photojournalist Sanjay Hadkar who was at the spot said that had a fireman rushed across with basic equipment, the sparks could have been put out sooner enough. However, the fireman got a fire brigade van which took at least 15 minutes to plod through traffic. All this while the sparks kept coming out of the pole. Some people had alerted the fire brigade.



Alert loco pilot saves duo lying injured on track



Thane: An alert locomotive pilot of an express train rescued two middle-aged men lying injured on the tracks between Thane and Diwa stations around 10am on Wednesday. P N Behram, loco pilot of Manmad Mumbai Rajyarani Express, noticed the two men when the train had crossed Diwa and had picked up speed. Behram applied the brakes and stopped the train. In the meantime, he alerted his guard, R K Tiwari, and, using a flasher and headlight, signaled an oncoming train on the down fast line to halt. “The men had probably fallen from some train and were trying to get up. I instinctively stopped my train and decided to help them,” said Behram. The injured men were carried into the guard’s brake van and handed over to the Thane station manager, who sent them to civil hospital for treatment.



Kerala disaster authority issues red alert in 3 districts



Thiruvananthapuram: After’s India meteorological department (IMD) warned of heavy to very heavy rain till October 6 followed by extremely heavy rain on October 7, Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) issued a red alert in Idukki, Palakkad and Thrissur on Sunday. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who convened an emergency meeting with KSDMA officials on Wednesday, said there is the possibility of a deluge or cyclonic storm with extremely heavy rain (over 20cm) on Sunday in these districts. Emergency measures will be in place on a war-footing to minimize the risks involved due to extremely heavy rain, rough sea and strong winds. The low-pressure area over southeast Arabian Sea will intensify into a depression, the effects of which could lead to sea erosion or flash floods. Fishermen should be advised not to venture into sea, he said. “We have sought the support of five National Disaster Response Force teams. Till fresh instructions are given, tourists are advised not to visit hilly areas such as Munnar in the wake of Kurinji bloom from Friday,” said Vijayan. KSDMA executive committee will meet on Thursday to take stock of dam levels and implement preventive steps. Earlier in the day, state emergency operations centre scientists had warned that a low-pressure area is likely to form over southeast Arabian Sea and adjoining Lakshadweep on Saturday.



25 Swine Flu cases reported across state since September 22



Hyderabad: The dreaded H1N1 virus is rearing its head across the state with 25 new cases recorded since September 22. Out of these, eight cases were reported on Monday alone, as per the latest data. In addition, 37 suspected cases of swine flu were also reported on Monday, taking the total number of swine flu cases recorded across the state so far to 75. While majority of the suspected cases have been referred to by private hospitals, currently two patients are undergoing treatment at the state-run Gandhi hospital. As per the health authorities, all cases from private hospitals are being sent to Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM), while cases from government hospitals are being sent to laboratory at Fever Hospital for testing. “This is the beginning of the swine flu season and the H1N1 activity is expected to see an upswing with decrease in temperature. The number of suspected cases have already started increasing. The cases will increase further by beginning of November and will peak during November and December,” said Dr K Shankar, director, IPM. Insiders say many cases from districts might be going unnoticed as hospitals in districts are still not sending many samples owing to low awareness. “There is a need raise awareness in districts by imparting knowledge to healthcare providers about symptoms like fever, cough, cold, body pain and respiratory distress,” said a senior official from health department.



Critical patients dash to cheat death at MCH


Kolkata: A fire ran through Medical College and Hospital’s pharmacy on Wednesday, making the country’s oldest medical college the scene of the city’s third major disaster in a month. Seventy-five-year-old Saidul Islam Mallik, who was in hospital with severe respiratory distress and was one of the 250-plus evacuated patients, died a few hours after he had to walk down two floors and then 60 more metres — from one building to another — with his son lugging the oxygen cylinder behind him all the while. The fire was controlled after five hours but, by then, MCH had become the scene of one of the city’s biggest evacuation operations in recent memory. Wednesday’s fire also extended Kolkata’s recent run of ill fortune — starting with the Majerhat bridge collapse (September 4) and including the Bagri Market fire (September 16) — in the run-up to its biggest festival season; in the middle of all this, an eight-year-old boy lost his life in Nagerbazar on Tuesday after someone kept a bomb about 35 feet away from a Trinamool Congress party office.


An initial probe could not pinpoint the cause of Wednesday’s fire. Staff and patients first spotted black smoke emerging from the pharmacy before 8 am; the fire brigade logged its first call at 7.58 am. Cardboard boxes, paper, plastic, cotton, bandages and swabs fueled the flames even as four fire-tenders from Md. Ali Park fire brigade reached the spot in seven minutes. They called for reinforcements from the Lalbazar fire brigade after realising that they needed help. Director-general (fire) Jag Mohan said: “A forensic test will reveal the cause of fire. We could contain the fire to the ground floor though some smoke spread to the floor above.” Three separate agencies will probe the incident: police, fire department and PWD. But patients’ kin, who stayed on the premises overnight, launched evacuation ops before the first fire-tenders reached the spot. Patients were carried or trolleyed out of the cardiology, haematology and medicine wards though many, like Mallik, had to walk it to safety after their saline tubes were removed.



2 men from Nepal held for attempt to Rob Bank



Chennai: Police have cracked the attempted robbery of a nationalised bank at Ramapuram on October 1, with the arrest of two Nepali nationals in Valasaravakkam on Wednesday. With the help of CCTV footage, a special team headed by assistant commissioner Sampath, inspectors Subramani, Sis Jayaram, Rajesh Kumar and constables Vijayan and Parthiban narrowed down on the duo, who were identified as Ganesh Bogati, 20, and Narath Bogati, 21. Interrogations with them revealed that they were part of a six-member gang from Nepal. The men arrived at the bank in a car with gas cutters and two LPG cylinders to break open the grille. They fled the place after a burglar alarm was triggered, alerting the bank’s Mumbai head office, which informed police in Chennai. Police said they were former employees of a Tasmac shop in Tiruvottiyur. They quit their job last month and were working at a restaurant in Porur.


“The men told us during questioning that since their job earned them a meagre salary, they decided to strike at a bank and flee the country,” said an investigating officer. They were searching for a potential target, when they came across the bank in Ramapuram. “They were standing at a bus stop opposite the bank when they noticed that it was located in a deserted lane and had no security guard. So, they hit upon a plan to rob it,” said the officer. Police are on the lookout for the other four members of the gang – Harish Bogati, Agni Hadka, Lokesh Hadka and Bishnu Bogati – who are still at large. Police are also probing if the men have any link with another Nepali national, who stole cash and gold from a nationalised bank on Arcot Road in Virugambakkam in March this year.



8 test positive for Zika in Jaipur



Jaipur: Eight people, of which three are pregnant women, have tested positive for Zika virus infection in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The first case was reported in September last week. Zika virus infection is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by aedes genus mosquito, mainly aedes aegypti, which bites during the day. The health department issued directions to conduct compulsory Zika virus tests on pregnant women with fever in the Shastri Nagar area. There are 318 pregnant women in the area and the health department is keeping them under watchful eyes. As soon as report of eight more positive cases came to light, the health department swung into action and called for an urgent meeting with officials from SMS medical college, health directorate and Jaipur Municipal Corporation on Wednesday. “We had sent more than 20 samples of suspected Zika cases to National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune,” said Dr SM Sharma, adding they are awaiting reports of 13 more people from NIV.



International News



Quake toll at 1,400, island now sees a volcano erupt

A handout picture released by an Indonesian agency on Wednesday shows Soputan volcano in Sulawesi spewing ash and smoke.



Jakarta: A volcano erupted on Wednesday on the same Indonesian island struck last week by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, and authorities warned planes about volcanic ash in the air. Mount Soputan on Sulawesi island spewed a massive column of ash more than 6,000 meters into the sky. No evacuations were immediately ordered. The eruption took place on a day when the official death toll increased to 1,407, with thousands injured and more than 70,000 displaced from their homes. National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the number of dead would increase, but that rescue crews had reached all affected areas. A government expert said it’s possible the eruption was accelerated by the magnitude 7.5 quake that struck on Friday. “It could be that this earthquake triggered the eruption, but we have seen an increase in volcanic activity since July and this began surging on Monday. Yet we can’t say there a direct link,” Kasbani, the head of volcanology and geology disaster mitigation agency, said.



Facebook hack puts thousands of sites at risk



San Francisco: When Mark Zuckerberg introduced an online tool called Facebook Connect in 2008, he hailed it as a kind of digital passport to the rest of the internet. In just a few clicks, users would be able to log in to other apps and sites with their Facebook passwords. The tool was adopted by thousands of other firms, from publishing companies to tech outfits like Airbnb and Uber. Now those outfits could have been exposed to the consequences of an attack on Facebook’s computer systems. On Friday, the company said the account entry keys of at least 50 million Facebook users had been stolen in the largest hack in the company’s history. But the effect could be significantly bigger since those stolen credentials could have been used to gain access to so many other sites. Companies that allow customers to log in with Facebook Connect are scrambling to figure out whether their own user accounts have been compromised. The hack underscore the lengths to which Facebook has cemented itself as the identity of the internet, and what happens when the security systems fail. “Just the sheer fact that this exists will magnify the scale of any hack,” said Jason Polakis, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois. Tinder has found no evidence that accounts have been breached, based on the “limited information Facebook has provided,” Justine Sacco, a spokesperson for Tinder, said.

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