Fire in basement godown: Close shave for 52 families
MUMBAI: Fifty-two families and around 100 workers had a narrow escape when a fire broke out in an illegal godown in the basement of the six-storey Zia Apartment near City Center Mall in Mumbai Central on Friday afternoon. Around 10 residents sustained minor injuries while rushing out of the narrow entrance on seeing smoke spreading. The fire erupted in one of the three illegal units in the parking-turned-godowns on 5,000-odd sq. ft. area in the basement. After dousing the fire, BMC workers brought out thousands of mobile phone batteries, cables and covers from a godown and dumped them in the building compound, which is adjacent to Anjuman-I-Islam girls’ high school. Pointing at the charred gadgets, residents told TOI a tragedy was waiting to happen as complaints to BMC have fallen on deaf ears. “In 2013, we wrote to the fire department, BMC and police about illegal godowns. While the fire brigade agreed with us, BMC did not,” said Rizwan Khan, a resident. Zia Apartment, built in 1984, has two wings—one is ground-plus-six-storey and the other is ground – plus – seven – storey – with the ground floor housing shops. “The developer, Yusuf Patel, did not hand over the basement parking space to the residents and it was locked for many years. The parking space of A wing was sold to three persons, one of them is a tenant who runs a manpower recruiting office on the ground floor. A zari unit, a mobile accessories godown and a garment godown also came up in the basement around 10 years ago,” said a resident. The wall, constructed in the basement to divide it into parking and godown, was demolished by BMC in the evening. Around 100 workers rushed out of the basement when the fire broke out, sources said.
Late Congress minister and Manipur governor Syed Ahmed had his office in this building where his son sits now. Rasheed Hawa, a member of the building society, said mobile accessories of some shops in the nearby mall were kept in the basement. “Most of us were preparing for Friday namaz and suddenly we heard people shouting that there’s a fire,” said a resident. Soon after receiving a call at 12.16 pm, the fire brigade reached the spot and put out the blaze within half an hour of operations. A portion of the ground floor wall was broken to spray water into the basement. Nine ambulances also reached the spot and emergency on-scene care was provided to 10 persons for injuries, including abrasion and minor burns. Iqbal Tanwar (49), who had come from Rajasthan for cancer treatment, was staying with his relatives. “I panicked when saw smoke spreading. I was on the second floor. It was difficult for me to climb down since the smoke was spreading,” said Tanwar, who underwent a surgery two months ago. Some youths said soon after the fire, the power supply was shut. “Four persons, including three senior citizens, were in the elevator and its door got locked. We went upstairs and opened the door to rescue them,” said a youth. As power supply was not restored till late in the night, residents started to look for shelter in relatives’ homes and hotels. The Nagpada police said they rescued the residents and any police action would depend on the fire brigade’s report.
For safe ops, monorail may get CCTVs on entire stretch
MUMBAI: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority(MMRDA) is likely to install CCTV cameras along the entire monorail corridor so that evacuation measures can be taken quickly during any emergency. Besides, evacuation chutes or midsection guideway are also being considered to evacuate passengers from the monorail in such situations, sources said. Monorail services have been suspended since a fire on November 9. The fire occurred because the monorail operators could not detect a flat tyre on one of the coaches. This tyre spun more, thus causing friction and the spark eventually came in contact with the lubricant of the tyre. The incident occurred while the train was going towards Chembur from Wadala depot to begin the day’s passenger services. Fortunately, no one was inside the coach. The incident had shocked the officials and citizens because the monorail coaches were billed as fire resistant. A senior MMRDA official said, “We are considering installing CCTV cameras along the entire 20-km-long corridor to spot any emergency like fire or even damage to the rake. The control room can immediately relay a message to the train crew so that emergency evacuation can be carried out”. The official added, “We will have to carry out a study on the locations where CCTV cameras will be needed to give the control room an unhindered view of the entire stretch. If found feasible, we will go ahead with this plan”.
KMC sounds alert on unsafe buildings
KOLKATA: Waking up to the concerns raised by the East-West Metro authorities on the precarious condition of some buildings on Old Court House Street, Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has put up ‘Beware’ and ‘Dangerous Building’ boards on them. In a separate letter, the civic body has also asked owners of three buildings (8, 9 and 10 Old Court House Street) to repair the structures and demolish the rickety portions within a fortnight. “We appreciate that KMRC has brought the condition of these buildings to our notice. We inspected them and took necessary action,” a KMC engineer said. A KMC team had inspected the houses last Friday and submitted the report to the civic director-general (building) on Tuesday. The KMC boards have been put up next to KMRC notices that were put up by the implementing agency last Wednesday, asking occupants of five ramshackle buildings along Old Court House Street to vacate their premises from the third week of January. The KMC letter, which has been pasted along with the board, says that punitive actions can be taken in case of non-compliance. “The time allotted is good enough because the west-bound tunnel boring machine (TBM) would pass below these buildings from January 25,” said a senior KMRC official. The agency has started grouting and strengthening of the buildings. A KMC engineer in charge of buildings in Ward 46 (BBD Bag area) said, “The boards have been put up to make the public aware of the dangerous condition of the buildings. It’s of no use serving letters to the owners or occupants privately. They tend to ignore them. But if everyone can see the boards and the notices, there will be pressure on the occupants to comply with the KMC order”.
Trader’s residence burgled, valuables worth Rs 11.75 lakh stolen
AHMEDABAD: A textile trader’s residence was burgled in Sabarmati. In a complaint with Sabarmati police, Dilipkumar Jain, the victim, has mentioned loss of valuables worth Rs 11.57 lakh including 290 grams of gold ornaments and 1kg of silverware and ornaments. According to investigators, Jain, 55, a resident of Keshavbaug Colony, Rambaug Road, owns Prakash & Co. in New Cloth Market, Sarangpur. His family had retired for the day at 11.30pm on January 4 and went to bedrooms on the first floor of the residence. When he woke up at 7.45am on January 5 and went down, he found that someone had rummaged through the belongings in a wooden cupboard in a bedroom on the ground floor. The thieves also got hold of a key to the iron safe which they opened and stole valuables. “According to the complaint, the thieves stole gold and diamond ornaments including jewellery sets, rings, earrings, necklaces and about 1 kilogram of silverware including ornaments. The thieves also stole Rs 1.7 lakh cash. In primary investigation, it is found that the thieves entered the premises after bending iron bars in one of the windows in the drawing room and targeted the cupboards. Probe is on to ascertain whether the thieves had prior knowledge of the valuables in home,” said an official.
One tourist killed, 12 injured in air balloon crash in Egypt
Photo shows tourist hot air balloons floating.
CAIRO: A tourist was killed and 12 other people were injured in a hot air balloon crash near Luxor in Egypt on Friday, state-run news agency MENA reported. The balloon, with tourists from different nationalities and Egyptians onboard, crashed to the west of the city of Luxor, MENA said. The health ministry said a woman was killed and 12 people injured but gave no other details. In 2015, at least 19 people, most of them Asian and European tourists, died near Luxor when a hot air balloon caught fire and crashed after a mid-air gas explosion.
Rohingya insurgents launch ambush in Myanmar’s Rakhine, three hurt: Army
Aerial view of a burned Rohingya village near Maungdaw, north of Rakhine state in Myanmar.
YANGON: Rohingya Muslim insurgents ambushed a vehicle in western Myanmar‘s Rakhine State on Friday, wounding three people, including two members of the security forces, the military said. A wave of attacks by Rohingya Muslim insurgents on the security posts on Aug. 25 sparked sweeping army counter-insurgency operations in the Muslim-majority north of the state that led to widespread violence and arson and an exodus of some 650,000 Rohingya villagers to Bangladesh. The United Nations condemned the Myanmar military campaign as ethnic cleansing. Buddhist-majority Myanmar rejected that. But since Aug. 25, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) insurgents, who claimed responsibility for the coordinated raids on 30 security posts, have mounted only a few sporadic attacks. The government did not identify the insurgents involved in the Friday attack on a vehicle taking someone to hospital but the military said in a statement they were “extremist Bengali terrorists ARSA”. “A vehicle … was attacked by 20 insurgents from the mountain using homemade mines and small arms,” the government said. The military said there were about 10 attackers. An ARSA spokesman was not available for comment. There was no mention of any incident on a Twitter account that routinely carries statements from the group. The Yangon-based Frontier Myanmar magazine quoted a resident of a nearby village as saying sporadic gunfire had been heard at the time of the ambush. The area is largely off-limits to reporters. Myanmar and Bangladesh have been discussing a plan to repatriate the Rohingya refugees but more insecurity in Myanmar is likely to raise doubts about how quickly that might take place.