News Flash – 5 April 2018

National News



Camac Street fire causes traffic jam

Firemen took 40 minutes to douse the blaze that broke out around 3.45pm;(insert) damaged furniture at the spot.



KOLKATA: The utilities stacked in the ground-floor of an old Camac Street building were completely gutted in a fire that broke out around 3.45pm on Wednesday. It took three fire tenders nearly 40 minutes to douse the flames that were rapidly spreading through the wooden staircase of the three-storied, 2 Camac Street building. No injuries were reported as the building, located a few meters off Ellen park, was uninhabited. It only had a caretaker, locals said. Fire officials said the blaze must have started from a ground-floor meter box. The ground floor also had a few shops, which were closed. A stretch on Camac Street, towards Park Street, was shut for traffic for nearly half-an-hour as firemen and police battled the flames. This created traffic snarls at the otherwise busy Park Street-Camac Street intersection. “A probe has been initiated to identify the building owners and find out whether the structure had a requisite firefighting mechanism,” a fire officer said. An officer of the Park Street police station said, “The fire appears to have been triggered due to a short circuit in the meter box. But we are awaiting the final probe report”.



Southern Railway model to tackle medical emergency likely to go national



CHENNAI: At the end of a 24-hour pleasant train journey, as the train chugs into Chennai Central, how is one supposed to react when a co-passenger suddenly develops a medical condition? Delay in timely medical help, especially during the golden hour, can be the difference between life and death, and in a crowded public space like a terminal railway station, doctors are hard to come by. To avoid such exigencies, Southern Railway started emergency medical care centres at 23 important stations including Central, Egmore, Tambaram, Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy and Salem. The concept used was innovative, said railway officials. “We provide the land free of cost to the corporate hospital which can set up the facilities. In return, primary health care service is provided by them to railway passengers free of cost. It’s a win-win situation for all,” said additional general manager P K Mishra. Corporate hospital giants like Apollo and SRM have been involved with Southern Railway in this programme. Physicians and nurses are stationed 24×7 at these centres which have equipment to resuscitate like defibrillator, nebuliser, and stretcher. The centres attend to cases of heart attack, breathlessness and injuries while boarding or alighting from trains among others. An ambulance is also stationed inside the station complex in case the patient has to be rushed to a nearby hospital. It is not compulsory that the patient will be taken to a corporate hospital. “The patient or his family can choose to be treated at any hospital of their choice,” Mishra said. A majority of the patients treated at the Apollo emergency medical centre in Chennai Central have been sent to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital across the Poonamalee High Road.


At Chennai Central, the medical centre attends to around 22 patients per day while at Egmore and Tambaram around 20 and six passengers receive treatment. The model has been appreciated by all quarters of the Indian Railways, with the chairman of Railway Board Ashwani Lohani discussing it when he visited Chennai recently. A top southern railway official said it was likely to be implemented at all major stations across India after a study by the ‘transformation cell’ which checks unique initiatives implemented in locations across the country. The centre at Chennai Central was started in November 2015 after a PIL in the Madras high court highlighted the lack of medical services at the station. The high court had given a general direction that the railways should explore possibilities following which railway authorities implemented the programme. “In railways, every contract entered with a private agency is viewed with suspicion and comes under vigilance scanner, especially when land is given for free. The court’s order gave an opportunity for setting up this unique model,” a top official said. K Baskar, member of Chennai divisional rail user’s consultative committee said it should be extended to suburban terminals like Arakkonam and Tiruvallur, which catered to a large number of suburban passengers. “A and B class stations should also benefit,” he said.



Armed men rob jewellery shop in Naroda



AHMEDABAD: A jewellery shop in Naroda was robbed on Tuesday night by five masked and armed men who made off with items worth Rs 4 lakh. According to the FIR registered with Naroda police, the incident took place at 9.30pm at Shrinath Jewellers, when the owner, Hitesh Soni, 32, went there to hand over ornaments to a customer. As Soni was closing the shop, five men who came in a car pointed a country-made gun at him and told him to open the safe. When he refused, they tried to shoot him, but the weapon did not discharge. They then Soni on the head with the weapon head and forced him to open the locker. They took a couple of necklaces, worth about Rs 3.90 lakh. Soni tried to stop them, but was overpowered. He said the robbers spoke Gujarati. Soni told police that he usually closes the shop at 8pm, but on Tuesday had returned to it because he had to deliver ornaments to a customer. After registering an FIR, police have launched an investigation and have started a search for the unknown offenders.



International News



Syria: Evacuations from besieged, battered areas

Pro-government forces drive past destroyed buildings.



BEIRUT: The evacuation of thousands of rebels and civilians from Syria‘s Eastern Ghouta, the last opposition bastion near Damascus, follows a string of similar operations in the seven-year war. The regime has pushed such “reconciliation” deals to recapture swathes of territory, offering a halt to bombardment and siege in exchange for the evacuations, generally towards the northwestern province of Idlib. Amnesty International, in a November 2017 report, labelled such forced displacements crimes against humanity. In May 2014, rebels leave their fiefdom in the devastated Old City of Homs, previously known as the “capital of the revolution”, after a two-year siege. This is the first regime-opposition deal on a rebel retreat since the war erupted in 2011, but takes years to fully implement. Between March and May 2017, thousands are evacuated from Waer, Homs’s last rebel-held neighbourhood, allowing regime forces to fully retake control of Syria’s third-largest city. In August 2016, rebels quit Daraya in Damascus province following a deal that ended a brutal four-year regime siege and relentless bombardment. The rebels and their families are taken to Idlib. The army retakes control of Daraya. In September, the army evacuates some 300 Daraya inhabitants from neighbouring rebel-held Moadimayet al-Sham, where they had taken refuge three years earlier. The UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, criticises the “strategy” of forced displacement. Following a suffocating siege and blistering offensive with barrel bombs, rockets and air strikes, Syria’s army in December 2016 retakes full control of second city Aleppo. The announcement comes after tens of thousands of rebels and civilians are bussed out under a deal sponsored by Iran, Russia and Turkey.


In 2017, UN investigators say the Aleppo deal was a “war crime of forced displacement of the civilian population”. In January 2017, the army recaptures Wadi Barada, a flashpoint area supplying water to Damascus, after rebels and civilians accept safe passage to Idlib in exchange for lifting a siege. The regime, supported by Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shiite militia Hezbollah, had been trying to retake the area, northwest of Damascus, since December 2016. In April 2017, under a deal sponsored by regime ally Iran and rebel backer Qatar, nearly 11,000 people leave four besieged areas. The evacuation involves Fuaa and Kafraya, two Shiite areas in Idlib province surrounded by rebels, and the rebel-held towns of Zabadani and Madaya. The towns had previously seen medical evacuations and aid deliveries. In May 2017, the regime secures a “reconciliation” deal for the rebel-held Damascus districts of Barzeh, Qabun and Tishrin. Several thousand civilians and fighters leave for Idlib, allowing the regime to retake full control of the neighbourhoods. After a brutal month-old offensive, Syria’s government and its ally Russia begin securing evacuation deals to clear out Eastern Ghouta.  Some 4,600 people, including 1,400 fighters from the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham rebel group, are evacuated to Idlib between March 22 and 23. Since then more than 46,000 people, about a quarter of whom are fighters, have reached Idlib, according to Syrian authorities. On April 2 a first wave of evacuations begins from Douma, with more than 1,100 people, Jaish al-Islam fighters and family members, setting off to northern rebel-held Jarabulus, according to state news agency SANA. The assault on Eastern Ghouta since mid-February has killed more than 1,600 civilians and caused tens of thousands to flee into regime-held territory.



Woman vlogger opens fire at YouTube headquarters, kills self



SAN BRUNO: An Iranian-born woman who blogged about veganism and believed You-Tube was suppressing her videos opened fire at the company’s California headquarters because she was angry with the site’s policies, police said on Wednesday. In a series of Persian and English-language online postings, Nasim Najafi Aghdam, 39, railed against YouTube, the video-sharing site owned by Alphabet Inc‘s Google before wounding three people and killing herself. “It is believed that the suspect was upset with the policies and practices of YouTube. This appears to be the motive for this incident,” San Bruno Police chief Ed Barberini said. He added Aghdam did not appear to have targeted particular victims when she opened fire with a hand gun at the open-air plaza.


In some of Agdham’s online posts before the attack, she spoke about herself in heroic terms for surviving in a hostile world. “I think I am doing a great job,” she wrote in Persian on her Instagram account. “I have never fallen in love and have never got married. I have no physical and psychological diseases. But I live on a planet that is full of injustice and diseases”. In an English-language video posted to her YouTube account before the channel was deleted on Tuesday, Aghdam said, “I am being discriminated. I am being filtered on YouTube”. “There is no equal growth opportunity on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if they want to !!!!!”. One victim, a man in his 30s, remained in San Francisco General Hospital in serious condition on Wednesday, the hospital said. Two others who had been wounded had been released, it said. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said in a tweet that the firm would “come together to heal as a family”.

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