News Flash – 5 August 2019

National News



Schools & Colleges Shut, Trains Won’t Run beyond Kalyan Today

The upmarket Palava City township, built on 4,500 acres of flood plains on the Shil-Kalyan road, was inundated on Sunday.



Mumbai: Torrential overnight rainfall crippled normal life, disrupted rail services and washed away a portion of a bridge over the Pinjal river near Palghar, marooning over one lakh people within their housing colonies in Badlapur-Ambernath and Vasai-Virar stretches. Five people were also killed with the weather department predicting heavy rain on Monday, the state government announced a holiday for schools and colleges in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad. Central Railway services between CSMT-Thane and CSMT-Mankhurd were Paralysed for the better part of the day. In bad news for those staying beyond Kalyan, an official said it may take a day or two to restore services on the Kalyan-Karjat corridor. The release of water from the Barvi dam and overflowing of Mithi river in Mumbai added to CR’s woes, with tracks being washed away in some stretches near Badlapur, Shelu and Neral. Western Railway also witnessed suspension of services on two tracks between Vasai and Virar for nearly seven hours on Sunday.



In a tweet, the CM’s office said: “Due to the IMD warning for tomorrow, holiday declared for schools & colleges in Mumbai & MMR, Palghar, Thane, Raigad districts. All government and semi-government employees in MMR are allowed to report late. Government also appeals to people to stay safe at home if it is not necessary to go out. All emergency services to function as usual”. Five people, including a mother and son from Santacruz, are feared dead in various rain-related incidents on Sunday. Mala Nagam (52) and her 26-year-old son Sanket were electrocuted when they touched the door of their Santacruz home, while a 20-year-old Dharavi resident is feared drowned in a nullah. Officials are looking for the bodies of a man feared drowned in Papadkhind dam in Virar (E) and a teenager who was washed away in the floods at Batane in Vasai. Woes of Badlapur residents worsened on Sunday after the release of water from Barvi dam. In Bhiwandi too, over 5000 people were affected.



Plush Dombivli Township Built on Flood Plains of River goes under


Kalyan: Sunil More’s bungalow in Palava City (Phase 1) in Dombivli looked like it was built inside a pool. Around 6am, water had started seeping in and within a couple of hours, the ground floor was inundated. “We were forced to move to the first floor with a few belongings for basic survival,” More said. As the day progressed and the incessant rain continued, power supply to the entire Phase 1 of the housing complex was switched off. “Water had entered the electrical meter box,” said More. The situation in phase 1 of Palava City Township was grim with many confined to their buildings due to the flood-like situation. Some of the affected buildings were Casa Bella, Casa Rio and the bungalows of Meadow Green. The area around Phase II of the township was also flooded. Vehicles were submerged at Palava City (see pic alongside), which is spread over 4,500 acres. Constructed by the Lodha Group, the complex stands on the flood plains of river Mothali. The project was touted as a gated township with riverfront views.



A resident said some lucky ones managed to save their vehicles from damage during the downpour by parking them on higher ground before their building compounds got flooded. Another resident said “nearly half” of Phase-I was flooded with water reaching a height of 5 feet. Residents were “caught between the devil and the deep sea”, said a resident who refused to be identified. “We had a tough time as we were holed up in our homes. And we could not even step out of the building,” said this resident. The management of the housing complex tried to drain out water using pumps. A spokesperson of the Palava City expressed inability to give their comment on Sunday. Environmentalist Rupali Shailwale pointed out that Palava City has sprung up in a “low-lying” area. “Also we have to remember that it has been built on the bank of a river,” said Shailwale. “If we play with the environment by constructing along a riverside, such man-made disasters could recur. Also, dumping of plastic waste in the river results in such a display of nature’s fury”.



Mithi brings a Flood of Bitter Memories


Mumbai: On Sunday, as Mithi River flowed four metres high, almost half a metre over its danger mark, panic spread in the Sion-Kurla belt. Housing societies and roads were flooded, and railway services disrupted between CST and Thane. Most of the crisis areas where people had to be rescued, vehicles were submerged or train services were cancelled were along Mithi’s long winding path through the city’s central localities, right from Powai to Kurla through Sion to Bandra. Mithi, which originates in Vihar Lake, SGNP, and winds its way down to the Arabian Sea for 18km, overflows for a variety of reasons, but on Sunday, the main reason was heavy rain coinciding with one of the season’s highest tides 4.83metres, around 2.30pm. Though the rain’s intensity had lessened by the time tidal waters started rising in the morning, there wasn’t enough time for accumulated rainwater to make an exit to the sea by the time the sluice gates that prevent ingress of seawater into the city went down. Experts traced the flooding of tracks between King’s Circle and Chunabhatti on Central Railway’s harbour tracks to Mithi. Water had swelled up just where the river meets Mahim Creek. Crawling traffic on the city’s only double-decker flyover, SCLR, could also be attributed to the river: as water from Mithi flooded CST Road near Kurla, residents from housing colonies parked their expensive cars on the flyover, leading to jams. This could be seen especially near Kapadia Nagar, which adjoins the river and went under water.



The BMC evacuated more than 400 people from Kranti Nagar slum along the riverbank in Kurla, as there were fears that their homes would get submerged. The slum dwellers were shifted into a municipal school nearby which was on higher ground, and were provided with food and medication. Residents of around 30 buildings at Taximen Colony on LBS Road near BKC lived without electricity from 5am till Sunday night after floodwaters rushed into ground-floor homes. A local, Faizan Azizi, said, “On Saturday, rainwater cleared till 5pm. But on Sunday, the situation was worse. We are living without power and water supply. There is around 1 metre of water in our colony”. Corporators and activists have come down heavily on the BMC for its “failure” to prevent flooding in the city yet again. “BMC spent Rs 2,000 crore on Mithi River. Yet, there’s no relief. BMC has not learnt anything from the 2005 deluge and has not yet implemented the recommendations of the Chitale panel. Desilting work on the river continues to be poor,” said Congress corporator from Kurla Ashraf Azmi. But mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar countered this, saying the reason of flooding was heavy rain and high tide, and that desilting of the river was done properly. RTI activist Anil Galgali, who lives in Sakinaka, said, “The culverts that take water from many nullahs into Mithi are very narrow and aren’t properly cleaned. So, even after the rain stopped, it took a long time for water to clear from LBS Road”.



With Rivers Swelling, Five NK Districts Reel Under Floods

WATER EVERYWHERE: (Left) National Disaster Response Force personnel rescue people from a village in Belagavi district on Sunday. (Right) Incessant rain since Saturday caused flooding in some areas of Kodagu district. Officials say the water level in Cauvery river is rising rapidly at Bhagamandala and the district administration has cautioned tourists and those staying near forest areas.



Hubballi/Belagavi/Bengaluru: Five districts in north Karnataka – Belagavi, Bagalkot, Vijayapura, Raichur and Yadgir continue to reel under floods caused by heavy rain in Maharashtra and discharge of water into rivers flowing into the state. The situation on Sunday turned worse with Maharashtra releasing more water from Koyna, Varana and other reservoirs into Krishna river, causing heavy inflow into Almatti and Narayanapura dams. Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam (KBJNL) officials said the inflow at Almatti dam touched 2.5 lakh cusecs on Sunday up from 1.5 lakh cusecs on Saturday forcing officials to discharge 2.8 lakh cusecs. “We have been increasing the outflow in proportion to the inflow into our reservoirs,” said RP Kulkarni, chief engineer, Almatti Zone, KBJNL. The inflow is likely to increase as the MET department has forecast heavy rain in Maharashtra over the next two days. District administrations have sent out red alerts to villages located along the Krishna and have urged people to move to safer areas. On Sunday, more villages in Belagavi, Bagalkot and Vijayapura districts located downstream from Krishna Basin were inundated and heavy damage causes to property and crops. Several villages turned islands with roads and bridges submerged under water. The heavy release of water from Almatti dam also caused damage to crops and property in areas downstream from the reservoir, with hundreds of acres of standing crops in Raichur and Yadgir districts under flood water.



One person in Ankalagi village in Belagavi district was washed away while trying to cross a submerged bridge. This is the second death caused due to rain in the past two days. Of the five districts, Belagavi is the worst affected. Over 35 villages in Chikkodi are partially submerged, leaving hundreds of people homeless and cattle stranded. The administration relocated around 235 families to safer areas and eight rescue shelters have been opened across the district. In Vijayapura and Bagalkot, 35 families were shifted to safer places. R Ramachandran, Bagalkot deputy commissioner said all schools and colleges in Muttur, Tubachi, and Nandagav villages in Mudhol taluk will remain closed till August 7 due to the threat of floods. The state government has stepped up rescue operations by pressing more teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Forces into action. It has also deployed boats to ferry people to safer areas. Five teams of NDRF comprising 10 people each reached Belagavi and Raichur respectively on Sunday noon. In addition, 90 army personnel and 75 staff of the fire department, who are trained in disaster management, were deployed at critical places. Venkatesh Kumar, Kalburgi DC, has also alerted villages on the banks of Bhima river in Chittapur taluk and has urged people to move to safer areas following the release of more than 1tmc of water into the river from Neera river of Purandar taluk, Pune.



Burglars make away with Gold Worth Rs.12 Lakhs



Hyderabad: Burglars stole gold ornaments weighing 34 tola and estimated worth Rs.12 lakhs, 1.5 kg silver items and Rs. 65,000 in cash from a house in Neredmet. A case was registered on Sunday. The complainant, K Laxmikanth (42), is a software engineer and a resident of Santoshima Nagar. According to police, Laxmikanth and his family had gone to his brother’s house in Kukatpally on Saturday evening. “He received a call on Sunday morning from a neighbour saying his house door was open and locks broken. The family rushed back at 11.30am and found the main door lock and almirah lock broken. Several ornaments and items were missing,” said Rajendra Goud, a detective inspector at Neredmet police station. The family approached the police at 1pm. The clues team and fingerprint team visited the spot. “We did not find any CCTV cameras near their house. We suspect there could be more than one person involved,” said the officer. A case was registered under Section 457 and 380 of IPC.



73k Hit by AP Floods, Malaria & Dengue Cases Reported

A man wades through waist-deep water in Devipatnam, East Godavari.



Rajahmundry: The flood situation in East and West Godavari districts continued to be grim on Sunday even as the government shifted 17,632 people to safer places. Cases of dengue and malaria were reported from Polavaram and Valeirupadu mandals. So far, nearly 73,000 people have been affected in Godavari districts. Water discharge from Arthur Cotton Barrage near Rajahmundry has gone up to 14.20 lakh cusecs and danger warning no. 2 has been issued. About 280 villages in East and West Godavari districts are badly hit. Transport to 19 villages in East Godavari remained cut off on Sunday. In West Godavari, Yedduvagu bridge and Siddaramvagu bridge remained submerged. The government has opened 32 relief camps in East Godavari and 47 medical camps in West Godavari districts.



Irrigation authorities are releasing 13.50 lakh cusecs of water into Bay of Bengal. Meanwhile, water is receding in upstream areas and merged mandals in East Godavari. Although transportation has been restored in several villages, 29 villages are still cut off. But the situation is grim in Agency mandal of Devipatnam. The road link to 36 villages in the mandal is cut off and about 3,000 villagers have been shifted to camps. East Godavari collector D Muralidhar Reddy said waters may recede by Monday morning. On Sunday, the water level was 42.30 feet at Bhadrachalam and 14.20 feet at Dowlaiswaram. The authorities are using satellite phones for communications at control rooms in revenue divisional offices and at the collectorate to supervise relief works. In West Godavari, 48 villages are marooned in Polavaram and Valeirupadu mandals. Some tribal families are staying on hillocks to escape flood. Water is flowing two metres above Kadem sluice, which is the only way to Polavaram project from Polavaram village.



International News



30 Killed in 2 Shootings in 2 US Cities in 24 Hours


El Paso: Two mass shootings at crowded public places in Texas and Ohio claimed at least 30 lives in less than 24 hours and left scores of people wounded. In the Texas border city of El Paso, a gunman opened fire on Saturday morning in a shopping area packed with thousands of people during the busy back-to-school season. The attack killed 20 and wounded more than two dozen, many of them critically. Authorities said the rampage appeared to be a racially motivated hate crime and federal prosecutors are treating it as a case of domestic terrorism. The justice department was weighing federal hate-crime charges that would carry the death penalty, according to a person familiar with the department’s decision-making process. Hours later in Dayton, Ohio, a gunman wearing body armour and carrying extra magazines opened fire in a popular nightlife area, killing nine and injuring at least 26 people. The suspected shooter was shot to death by responding officers. Together the two assaults wounded more than 50 people, some of them critically. Investigators were focusing on whether the El Paso attack was a hate crime after the emergence of a racist, anti-immigrant screed that was posted online shortly beforehand. Two law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity identified the shooter as Patrick Crusius, 21. Authorities said he was arrested without police firing any shots. He is from Allen, which is a nearly 10-hour drive from El Paso.



El Paso police chief Greg Allen said he did not know where the weapon was purchased. He acknowledged that open carrying a long rifle in Texas is legal under state law. “Technically he was within the realm of the law,” Allen said. The attack targeted a shopping area about 8km from the main border checkpoint with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Many of the victims were shot at a Walmart. Three Mexican nationals were among the dead and six more were wounded. In Dayton, police officers who were on routine patrol nearby arrived on the scene in less than a minute and shot the attacker dead, likely preventing a much higher casualty toll. Assistant police chief Matt Carper named the gunman as Connor Betts, a 24-year-old white male from Ohio, and said his sister Megan Betts, 22, was among those killed. Carper told reporters the shooting began at 1 am local time in Dayton’s Oregon District, an historic neighborhood popular for its nightclubs, restaurants and galleries. The motive behind the shooting was not immediately clear. The victims were four women and five men and ranged in age from 22 to 57, authorities said, adding that the youngest was the gunman’s sister. Six of the nine people killed were African-American.

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