News Flash – 4 September 2017

National News



Re 1 clinic at railway stations to down shutters by Wednesday

A commuter gets tests done at Ghatkopar clinic.



MUMBAI: The popular Re 1 clinics at Central Railway, railway stations, that was kicked off nearly three months ago to provide cost-effective healthcare to passengers and ‘golden hour’ treatment to accident victims free of cost, seem to have become the victim of ‘infighting’ among railway officials. The private operator has decided to shut down the Re 1 clinics currently operational at eight CR stations, including Dadar and Ghatkopar, by Wednesday. CR officials denied the allegations. The first Re 1 clinic was inaugurated at Ghatkopar station on May 10. Passengers could get medical consultation for Re 1, and get pathological tests done and buy medicine from the pharmacy at subsidized rates. “We have written a letter to CR Mumbai divisional railway manager to convey our decision to shut down Re 1 clinic in the next three days,” said Dr. Rahul Ghule of Magicdil that operates these clinics. “We have suffered due to internal differences among railway officials.” Citing an example of CR’s “infighting”, he claimed that though they had all permissions in place, a 180-sq ft extension of the emergency medical room (EMR) at Dadar station was demolished in May, two days after the Re 1 clinic was inaugurated there. They resumed services next day, but suffered huge losses, he added.


But divisional railway manager Ravinder Goyal said, “We have always cooperated with the operator.” A CR official, who did not want to be identified, said, “I think it is a pressure tactic by the operator”. Dr. Ghule complained that they had paid security deposit of Rs 11 lakh, but CR is still to decide on the location of the clinics at 11 of the 19 approved stations. “This is probably because some politicians are opposed to the initiative,” he alleged. “We have saved more than 200 lives and there has not been a single complaint against us. We will now shift these clinics in slum pockets and lower middle-class areas. We will also initiate home medical services”. Amid this blame game, it is the commuters who will lose. “Railways should step in as absence of EMRs that provide affordable medical care at stations could prove fatal, especially for accident victims,” said Chetna Jani, a passenger.



Woman falls off train, dies as snatcher pulls purse



NEW DELHI: A 55-year-old woman travelling on the Yoga Express from Rewari to Delhi fell off the running train and died less than a km from the Old Delhi station, after a man allegedly tried to snatch her purse early on Sunday. The victim, Sudhir Kumari, was travelling with her son, Gaurav, in the unreserved compartment that was the last coach of the train, railway officials said. The two were standing at the door around 5.45am, waiting to get off, when the woman fell off with a scream, Gaurav said. He told police he saw a man pull his mother’s purse but did not get a good glimpse of the snatcher in the dark. The train was near Pul Mithai, just around 500 metres before the station. Doctors said the woman came under the train’s wheels and lost her hand and legs. Gaurav, too, jumped off the train, which had slowed down significantly, and rushed to his mother’s help. The victim’s son called up the police -who he said arrived late -after which the woman was rushed to hospital. Kumari died of excessive bleeding and internal injuries during treatment. Her body was handed over to the family after a postmortem. The cause of death is awaited. The family left for their home town in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan for the last rites.


“An FIR under sections of culpable homicide and robbery has been registered by the railway police on the statement given by woman’s son and investigations have been initiated,” DCP (railways) Parvez Ahmed said. The police have not got any witnesses to the incident as of now and are relying on the information provided by the woman’s son. Local criminals from nearby slum clusters have been rounded up and are being interrogated. Informers have been asked to give information about criminals who have been on the prowl in the area in the early morning hours. The cops will also interview the son to make a sketch or get some details about the appearance of the accused. Railway officials said the train had slowed down as it was approaching a junction where the tracks split, with one set heading towards the New Delhi station and the other towards Delhi junction. Railway protection force (RPF) personnel said more personnel had been deployed in the area with men from Kishanganj, Old Delhi and New Delhi alerted to keep a look out on the tracks, especially at night. “We have increased patrolling numbers and are making announcements on the tracks against trespassers. It is suspected that the snatchers came from a nearby jhuggi cluster,” said an RPF officer.



Respite in rains in Bengaluru



BENGALURU: Most parts of the country’s IT capital pounded by heavy downpour over the last two days are slowly limping back to normalcy today, with respite in rains till evening. Though cloudy, the lull in the rain gave a sigh of relief to the residents who had witnessed flooded roads, drainage water entering houses in low-lying areas and cars floating at the basements yesterday. The rainfall that began on Friday night had continued for almost the whole of yesterday causing traffic snarls on arterial roads of the city. The worst hit was south and eastern parts of the Bengaluru – Koramangala, HSR Layout, Begur, J P Nagar, Begur, Anugraha Layout, Bommanahalli, Gottigere among other areas. According to officials the city received about 47 mm of rainfall. The Met department officials have forecast generally cloudy skies with a few spells of rain or thundershowers likely in the city for the next 48 hours. They said maximum and minimum temperatures very likely to be around 28 and 20 Degree Celsius respectively.



Risking lives: Top hospitals fail on fire safety standards



HYDERABAD: You do not expect places of healing to be tinderboxes, but as many as seven top hospitals in the city are facing prosecution orders for failing to meet fire safety norms. More than 60 hospitals have obtained No Objection Certificates (NOC) from the Telangana state disaster response and fire services department, but a random inspection by the department officials found seven hospitals to be violating the norms. “Of the seven, three popular hospitals were found to have repeatedly violated norms during multiple inspections in the past one year. In fact, a top private hospital in Jubilee Hills was asked to pay `10,000 penalty recently,” said Prabhakar Reddy, prosecution officer of the department. Fire safety regulations make it mandatory for hospital buildings of more than 15 metre height to obtain clearances under the Telangana Fire Service Act, 1999. However, hospitals less than 15metres need not take the NOC. “Small hospitals should follow fire safety rules, but we cannot enforce it as it is not mandatory. We can only advise them to ensure fire safety,” said regional fire officer (RFO) V Papaiah. The common violation, the RFO said, is that hospital managements add extra floors rafting obtaining NOC. “They also tend to keep the pumps supplying water to the sprinkler system switched off when they are supposed to be on at all times,” he added. The officer also said it is important for hospitals to leave 13rd of the total space empty to make way for fire engines and rescue operations in case of an emergency. “But 80% of the hospitals facing prosecution are using that empty space as pathology centre or physiotherapy centres,” Reddy said. They also end up using basement area as canteens, which is also against the norms.



Bengal: 19-year-old girl jumps from running train, catches smartphone thief



KOLKATA: A first-year student of Bhowanipore Education Society College jumped from a running train and got hold of a thief who had snatched her smartphone at Akra railway station in South 24 Parganas on Sunday morning. Bruised and bleeding from her head, the gutsy 19-year-old held on to the snatcher’s shirt, lying on the edge of the platform as fellow passengers caught the accused, Shamim Molla (20), and handed him over to police. The student, Komal Parida, was taken to a local nursing home from where she was referred to a city hospital that specializes in neurosurgery. Police said Parida, a resident of Maheshtala, was supposed to get down at Nungi station that comes after Akra and was standing near the gate of a ladies’ compartment when the accused snatched her phone around noon. “The accused boarded the train moments after it started from Akra. As it gained pace, the youth snatched the phone and jumped on the platform. The girl also jumped on the platform and caught him. Even though she was bleeding, she did not leave him,” said Munni Bibi, a fruit seller at the station who witnessed the incident.


The phone screen broke but it was still working as Komal’s mother called her when one of the passengers informed her about the incident. Ko mal was unconscious when her parents reached the station and took her to a nursing home. Her wound was stitched and a CT scan was conducted that showed a mild internal bleeding. The family immediately drove her to Institute of Neurosciences Kolkata in Mullickbazar. “The wound has been stitched and there is a mild internal bleeding from her ears. But her condition is stable and she is now kept under observation. She is not speaking much though,” said an attending doctor at the emergency ward. Komal’s kin said she was returning home from a Chartered Accountancy tuition near Rabindra Sarobar Metro station and took the Budge Budge-bound local train from Tollygunge. Her father works at a multinational company and her mother is a homemaker. The family, however, felt she fell off the train. “She is not the kind who would risk her life for a phone. She must have lost her balance when the miscreant snatched her phone and fell accidentally. We want punishment for the accused,” said Ravi Chowdhry, Komal’s uncle. Police have arrested the youth and started a case of snatching and act leading to grievous injury.



Four including 5-year-old killed as 3 storey building collapses near Trichy



TRICHY: A three storey residential building collapsed in the early hours of Sunday killing four persons including a woman and a 5-year-old boy in Trichy. Four others injured in the accident are undergoing treatment in the hospital. People in the ground floor were the first to feel the tremor after the building started sliding towards the north. The accident took place around 4 am when all were fast asleep, leaving little room to escape. Those in the second floor of the building were the first to be pulled out of the debris. They were identified as Karthick, 35, and his five-year-old son Harish Raj. His wife, Karthiga, has been admitted to the government hospital in critical condition. 18-month-old Parameswari was rescued unhurt from the debris 8 hours after the accident. Though it revived hope of rescuing her parents trapped in the debris, her mother Rajathi, 25, and father Palani, 35, were removed from the debris dead few minutes later. They were in the first floor of the three storey building. Five others injured in the accident are undergoing treatment at the government hospital.


The 3-decade old building lost stability after an adjacent building was demolished for reconstruction a few days ago. Heavy rain on Saturday night that lasted for over 2 hours weakened the building foundation. Family of S Anbazhagi, 35, in the third floor had a lucky escape who were away for a marriage. They came back this morning after learning about the collapse. Anbazhagi said that she had insisted her owner on carrying repair work on the building after an adjacent building was demolished a few days ago. R Jeyaganesh, 36, saw the building coming down at 4:10am when he was returning home after participating in Anitha’s funeral at Ariyalur. He alerted the neighbours and the police. Fire service personnel reached the spot 15 minutes after the incident. Collector K Rajamani, who inspected the accident spot, said that all the buildings across the city would be inspected for its stability in the next two months to prevent any further accident.



International News



Harvey damage could reach $180 billion


HOUSTON: US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday challenged Congress to raise the government’s debt limit in order to free up relief spending for Hurricane Harvey, a disaster that the governor of Texas said had caused up to $180 billion in damage. Harvey, which came ashore on August 25 as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years, has killed an estimated 50 people, displaced more than 1 million and damaged some 200,000 homes in a path of destruction stretching for more than 300 miles (480 km). As the city of Houston and the region’s critical energy infrastructure began to recover nine days after the storm hit, the debate over how to pay for the disaster played out in Washington. Texas Governor Greg Abbott estimated damage at $150 billion to $180 billion, calling it more costly than Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy, which devastated New Orleans in 2005 and New York in 2012. The administration of President Donald Trump has asked Congress for an initial $7.85 billion for recovery efforts, a fraction of what will eventually be needed. Even that amount could be delayed unless Congress quickly increases the government’s debt ceiling, Mnuchin said, as the United States is on track to hit its mandated borrowing limit by the end of the month unless Congress increases it. “Without raising the debt limit, I am not comfortable that we will get money to Texas this month to rebuild,” Mnuchin told Fox News. Republican lawmakers, who control both houses of Congress, have traditionally resisted raising the debt ceiling, but linking the issue to Harvey aid could force their hand with people suffering and large areas of the fourth-largest US city under water. Beyond the immediate funding, any massive aid package faces budget pressures at a time when Trump is advocating for tax reform or tax cuts, leading some on Capitol Hill to suggest aid may be released in a series of appropriations. Katrina set the record by costing US taxpayers more than $110 billion. In advocating for funds to help rebuild his state, Abbott said damage from Harvey would exceed that.


95% DRY: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city expected most public services and businesses to be restored by Tuesday, the first day after Monday’s Labor Day holiday. “Over 95 percent of the city is now dry. And I’m encouraging people to get up and let’s get going,” Turner told NBC News. Even so, Houston mandated the evacuation of thousands of people on the western side of town on Sunday to accommodate the release of water from two reservoirs that otherwise might sustain damage. The storm stalled over Houston, dumping more than 50 inches (1.3 m) on the region. Houston cut off power to homes on Sunday to encourage evacuations. The area was closed off on Sunday and military vehicles were stationed on the periphery to take people out. Karen Waltmon, 58, who was returning to her home in one of the neighborhoods, said she wondered if parts of the city would have to be razed. “I feel a lot of Houston is drying out, and I don’t want them to forget about us,” she said. About 37,000 refugees stayed overnight in 270 shelters in Texas plus another 2,000 in seven Louisiana shelters, the highest number reported by the American Red Cross. Some 84,700 homes and businesses were without power on Sunday, down from a peak of around 300,000, according to the region’s major electric companies. In Crosby, Texas, an Arkema chemical plant that ran out of electricity needed to keep volatile organic peroxide refrigerated will burn the remaining containers as a “proactive measure,” company and Harris County fire officials said in a statement. Officials last week evacuated residents and set up a 1.5-mile (2.4-km) perimeter around the area. Energy disruptions pushed up gasoline futures to a two-year high ahead of the holiday weekend, but major refineries started to come back online on Friday. Colonial Pipeline, the biggest US fuel system, expects to reopen a Texas segment of its network on Monday, when it will resume transporting distillates from Houston to Hebert, Texas, the company said on Sunday, adding that it would be ready to start moving gasoline on Tuesday. Those repairs would restore to normal Colonial’s entire pipeline from Houston to Linden, New Jersey, relieving shortages between Texas and the US Northeast.



IS clashes with Syrian regime forces kill 150

Syrian army artillery vehicles and rocket launchers stationed near the village of Huraybishah, within the administrative borders of Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor province.



BEIRUT: Fierce clashes between the Islamic State group and pro-regime forces in central Syria have left over 150 fighters dead in 24 hours, mostly jihadists, a monitor said Sunday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 120 IS fighters “were killed in clashes in and around the town of Uqayribat in the eastern Hama countryside… along with at least 35 regime troops and loyalist militiamen”. The town is the jihadist group’s last bastion in the central province apart from a handful of small villages. Pro-government forces seized Uqayribat on Friday night, but IS responded with a counter-offensive on Saturday that left it in control of most of the town, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said. An intense barrage of artillery fire and Syrian and Russian air strikes on jihadist positions allowed pro-regime forces on Sunday morning to push the jihadists back out of the town and advance on villages to the west that remain under IS control. IS has controlled Uqayribat since 2014, using it to launch attacks on regime-held areas and a strategically vital road Abdel Rahman described as “the only lifeline for the regime between Aleppo and central and southern Syria”. Regime forces, backed by heavy Russian air strikes, launched a major assault on IS-held parts of Hama in June. “By consolidating their control of (Uqayribat) and ousting IS from the surrounding villages, regime forces could oust the organisation from the whole of Hama province,” Abdel Rahman said.


Other rebel groups still control parts of the province’s rural north. Hama, which borders on six other Syrian provinces, is strategically vital to the Assad regime, separating opposition forces in Idlib from Damascus to the south and the regime’s coastal heartlands to the west. IS has suffered multiple defeats across Syria and neighbouring Iraq in recent months, notably in its main Syrian base of Raqa. On Friday a US-backed Kurdish-Arab coalition seized Raqa’s Old City and was advancing on the jihadists in the heavily defended city centre. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) began their offensive in May, capturing the city of Tabqa and a key dam nearby before entering Raqa city in early June. Meanwhile, pro-regime forces have advanced against IS in the eastern part of Homs province and western Deir Ezzor, where they have come to within 19 kilometres (12 miles) of the provincial capital. Syria’s conflict has killed more than 320,000 people and displaced millions since it started with anti-government demonstrations in 2011.



Flooding in India, Nepal, Bangladesh affecting 16 million children: UNICEF

People are rescued from a flooded village in Bihar



UNITED NATIONS: About 16 million children across India, Bangladesh and Nepal are in urgent need of life-saving support due to “catastrophic” flooding in the three South Asian countries, a UN agency said. “Millions of children have seen their lives swept away by these devastating floods” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia. “Children have lost their homes, schools and even friends and loved ones. There is a danger the worst could still be to come as rains continue and flood waters move south” she added. Weeks of torrential monsoon rains and catastrophic flooding in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh have devastated the lives of millions of children and families. UNICEF estimates that almost 16 million children and their families are in urgent need of life-saving support. Since mid-August, there have been at least 1,288 reported deaths, with over 45 yasion people estimated to be affected. Many areas remain inaccessible due to damage to roads, bridges, railways and airports. The most urgent needs for children are clean water, hygiene supplies to prevent the spread of disease, food supplies and safe places in evacuation centres for children to play, the UN agency said. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is on the ground working in close coordination with respective governments and humanitarian partners from three countries to scale up its responses and respond to immediate needs of affected children and their families. “Massive damage to school infrastructure and supplies also mean hundreds of thousands of children may miss weeks or months of school” said Gough.


“Getting children back into school is absolutely critical in establishing a sense of stability for children during times of crisis and provides a sense of normality when everything else is being turned upside down”. In India, four states in the northern part of the country have been extensively affected by the flooding, affecting over 31 million people including 12.33 million children. Some 805,183 houses are either partially or fully damaged and 15,455 schools have been damaged, disrupting the education of nearly one million students. Further heavy rains in Mumbai resulted in at least five deaths by drowning and three people including two children died due to house collapse. In the affected states in India the state governments, following rescue operations, are conducting relief, rehabilitation and recovery operations. UNICEF, at the request of the state governments, is providing multi-sectoral planning and coordination support in the three worst affected states of AssamBihar and Uttar Pradesh. Over 9.8 million people in Bihar have been reached with lifesaving information on topics such as safe drinking water and handwashing, UNICEF said. In Bangladesh alone, more than 8 million people have been affected by flooding, including around 3 million children. An estimated 696,169 houses have been damaged or destroyed and 2,292 primary and community schools have been damaged by high water. There have already been more than 13,035 cases of water-borne diseases in the country. In Nepal, 1.7 million people, including 680,000 children, have been affected with 352,738 displaced from their homes. More than 185,126 homes have been damaged or destroyed in addition to 1,958 schools, affecting the education of 253,605 children.

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