News Flash – 6 November 2017

National News



Schools in Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and two other districts to remain closed on Monday


CHENNAI: Schools in Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Villupuram and Nagapattinam districts will remain closed on Monday, respective collectors declared. A communication issued by the public relations officer quoting Chennai collector V Anbuselvan said, “It has been raining since the monsoon began. It rained heavily in many areas of the city last night. The IMD has forecast rain on Monday too. Thus, taking the welfare of the students into consideration, schools will remain closed on Monday”. Schools in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts have remained closed since Tuesday, mainly because of waterlogging on campuses or on roads to schools.



Western Railway launches mobile app for Women Security



MUMBAI: The Western Railway (WR) has introduced a mobile application “Eyewatch Railways” aiming to ensure security for women commuters between Churchgate and Virar stations. “The app is developed by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) in collaboration with Eyewatch Technologies,” said WR chief public relations officer Ravinder Bhakar. “The app assists women commuters during emergency situations. They can immediately send out their location, video and audio which can instantly be viewed on the emergency response control centre at the RPF control room at Mumbai Central. The eight chosen guardians, doctors and security personnel also receive the alert data via SMS; and automatically a phone call is placed to the guardians. It functions only when a commuter uses it while on railway premises”. The app has been customised for RPF to dispatch an immediate response by sending its personnel from the nearest station to help the women commuters. The app is free of cost. Brace for Harbour line block at Chunabhatti, Bandra Commuters may face inconvenience due Harbour line block between CSMT and Chunabhatti/Bandra from 11.10am to 4.40pm on Sunday. The Down Harbour line services to Vashi/Belapur/Panvel leaving Wadala Road from 11.34am to the service leaving CSMT till 4.47pm and Down Harbour line services to Bandra/Andheri leaving CSMT from 9.56am to 4.43pm will remain suspended.


The Up Harbour line services for CSMT leaving Panvel/Belapur/Vashi from 9.53am to 3.20pm and Up Harbour line services leaving Bandra/Andheri from 10.45am to 5.09pm will remain suspended. However, special services will be run between Panvel and Kurla (Platform No.8) during the block period, an official said, adding, “Harbour line passengers are permitted to travel via Main Line and Western Railway till 6 pm during block period”. The Central Railway will conduct a mega block on the down fast line between Diva and Kalyan from 11.20am to 4.20pm. The down fast and semi-fast services leaving CST Mumbai will halt at Ghatkopar, Vikhroli, Bhandup and Mulund stations in addition to their respective scheduled halts. The Down fast trains beyond Thane will be diverted on Down slow line between Thane and Kalyan halting at all stations and will arrive destination 20 minutes behind schedule, officials said. Similarly, the Up fast/semi fast line services leaving Kalyan station from till 3.06 pm will halt at Diva, Mulund, Bhandup, Vikhroli, Ghatkopar and Kurla stations in addition to their respective scheduled halts and will arrive destination 15 minutes behind schedule. “All Down and Up slow locals leaving/arriving CSMT from 11am to 5pm will arrive destination 10 minutes behind schedule,” an official added.



HC: Functioning of CCTVs must for Tihar Security


New Delhi: Proper functioning of CCTV cameras in Tihar Jail, which is overcrowded with prisoners by over 100%, is a “non-comprisable imperative”, Delhi high court said while setting up a high-level committee to suggest measures for enhancing security of three jails in the prison complex. The court said it was aware that Tihar Jail was under Delhi government’s home department but to ensure that the exercise was entirely objective and impartial, the three-member panel should not have representatives of the AAP government. The committee should get the active cooperation of the Tihar Jail administration and Delhi government, it added. A bench of justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta directed the secretary of the ministry of home affairs to constitute within 10 days, the committee which would comprise a retired district judge of Delhi as the chairperson, a senior official of the National Informatics Centre and a senior official of Delhi Police, not below the rank of a deputy commissioner of police. The court’s directions came on a petition alleging that 47 inmates in Tihar Jail were mercilessly beaten up by security personnel inside the prison and that their human rights were violated by jail authorities. It directed the panel to submit a report within two months and listed the matter on November 30. “Tihar jail is one of the largest jails in the country with an inmate population of over 14,500. It is sought to be projected as a ‘model jail’. It is undoubtedly a high security zone. It should be needless to emphasise that the proper functioning of CCTV cameras in the complex, on a continuous basis, is an non-comprisable imperative,” the judges observed.



Tough battle for police to clear traffic gridlock



HYDERABAD: The traffic police department‘s attempts to tackle congestion near metro stations at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, NGRI and Tarnaka on the stretch from Nagole to Miyapur hardly seems to be yielding any concrete results. Admitting that the situation at the stadium indeed warrants attention, inspector of Uppal traffic police station, E Jangaiah, told TOI they are ensuring that the road is free of footpath encroachments, push carts and vendors and that there is no stopping of traffic or parking of vehicles on the road. “These are the things that we can do and we are doing them. The road width has got reduced, but that is not something the traffic police can do anything about. We try to ensure free flow of traffic,” Jangaiah said, adding that they also deploy men on this particular stretch of road, which comes under the Cyberabad police, to regulate traffic as and when required. Quite clearly, if the traffic situation continues to deteriorate despite the efforts of the traffic cops, more plans will have to be formulated by the authorities to solve it.


The other two points – NGRI station and Tarnaka station – come under the Hyderabad traffic police. Nallakunta traffic inspector M Sandeep Reddy said senior traffic department officials will discuss the problem and formulate a plan on how to handle the congestion. “When the metro rail service begins, we will be able to understand the flow of traffic even better and formulate the right kind of plans,” Sandeep Reddy said. The urban rejuvenation works taken up by the HMRL include laying of footpaths at all these stations and the narrowing down of the road begins from the place where the footpaths begin. According to traffic police officials, an assessment will also be made about the inflow of traffic at the Nagole metro station and a plan will be drawn up on how to handle it. In fact, the HMRL authorities have reportedly even asked the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) to make available its existing garbage dump yard just beside the Metro Cash & Carry for parking of vehicles.



International News



26 killed in church attack in Texas’ worst mass shooting


SUTHERLAND SPRINGS: A man opened fire inside of a church in a small South Texas community on Sunday, killing 26 people and wounding about 20 others in the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history, the governor said. Officials didn’t identify the attacker during a news conference Sunday night, but two other officials — one a US official and one in law enforcement — who were briefed on the investigation identified him as Devin Kelley. They spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation. The US official said Kelley lived in a San Antonio suburb and doesn’t appear to be linked to organized terrorist groups. The official said investigators are looking at social media posts Kelley may have made in the days before Sunday’s attack, including one that appeared to show an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon. Authorities said civilian with a gun confronted the attacker and chased him away. The gunman was later found dead in his vehicle. A Department of Public Safety official said at the news conference that investigators weren’t ready to discuss a possible motive for the attack. He said the dead ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old. Twenty-three were found dead in the church, two were found outside and one died after being taken to a hospital. Federal law enforcement swarmed the small community 30 miles southeast of San Antonio after the attack to offer assistance, including ATF investigators and members of the FBI’s evidence collection team. Among those killed was the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, and his wife, Sherri. Sherri Pomeroy wrote in a text message to the AP that she and her husband were out of town in two different states when the attack occurred.


“We lost our 14 year old daughter today and many friends,” she wrote. “Neither of us have made it back into town yet to personally see the devastation. I am at the charlotte airport trying to get home as soon as I can”. The wounded were taken to hospitals. Video on KSAT television showed first responders taking a stretcher from the church to a waiting AirLife helicopter. Eight victims were taken by medical helicopter to the Brooke Army Medical Center, the military hospital said. Megan Posey, a spokeswoman for Connally Memorial Medical Center, which is in Floresville and about 10 miles from the church, said “multiple” victims were being treated for gunshot wounds. She declined to give a specific number but said it was less than a dozen. Alena Berlanga, a Floresville resident who was monitoring the chaos on a police scanner and in Facebook community groups, said everyone knows everyone in the sparsely populated county. “This is horrific for our tiny little tight-knit town,” said Alena Berlanga. “Everybody’s going to be affected and everybody knows someone who’s affected,” she said. Regina Rodriguez arrived at the church a couple of hours after the shooting and walked up to the police barricade. She hugged a person she was with. She had been at an amusement park with her children when she heard of the shooting. She said her father, 51-year-old Richard Rodriguez, attends the church every Sunday, and she hadn’t been able to reach him. She said she feared the worst. Nick Uhlig, 34, is a church member who didn’t go Sunday morning because he was out late Saturday night. He said his cousins were at the church and that his family was told at least one of them, a woman with three children and pregnant with another, is among the dead. He said he hadn’t heard specific news about the other. “We just gathered to bury their grandfather on Thursday,” he said. “This is the only church here. We have Bible study, men’s Bible study, vacation Bible school”.


“Somebody went in and started shooting,” he said, shaking his head and taking a long drag of his cigarette. President Donald Trump tweeted from Japan, where is his on an Asian trip, that he was monitoring the situation. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the shooting an “evil act,” and promised “more details” from the state’s Department of Public Safety soon. Sutherland Springs is in a rural area where communities are small and tight-knit. The area is known for its annual peanut festival in Floresville, which was most recently held last month. “We’re shocked. Shocked and dismayed,” said state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a Laredo Democrat whose district includes Sutherland Springs. “It’s especially shocking when it’s such a small, serene area. These rural areas, they are so beautiful and so loving”. Zaffirini said she had called several county and local officials but not been able to get through and didn’t have any firm details. The church is a white, wood-framed building with a double-door at the entrance and a Texas flag on a pole at the front area. A morning worship service was scheduled for 11 a.m. The first news reports of the shooting were between noon and 12.30pm. The church has posted videos of its Sunday services on a YouTube channel, raising the possibility that the shooting was captured on video. In the most recent service, posted Oct. 29, Frank Pomeroy parked a motorcycle in front of his lectern and used it as a metaphor in his sermon for having faith in forces that can’t be seen, whether it be gravity or God. “I don’t look at the moment, I look at where I’m going and look at what’s out there ahead of me,” Pomeroy said. “I’m choosing to trust in the centripetal forces and the things of God he’s put around me”.



Bomb threats force evacuation of Moscow’s Bolshoi theatre, hotels



MOSCOW: Bomb threats forced thousands of people to evacuate Moscow’s Bolshoi theatreMetropol hotel, GUM department store on the Red Square and other public places on Sunday, local media reported. A spate of anonymous phone calls have caused disruption at shopping centres, train stations and public buildings across Russia in the past two months. The calls have so far proved to be false alarms and there have been no claims of responsibility. RIA news agency, citing a source in the police, reported that as many as 5,000 people were evacuated from GUM and Metropol hotel. TASS and RIA, also quoting police sources, said the Bolshoi theatre was also evacuated. A Reuters witness said police had cordoned off premises of Bolshoi and GUM. TASS said the evacuation was announced from Bolshoi before a performance was due to start at 1600 GMT. Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the FSB security service said last month the authorities knew the identities of those responsible, saying they four Russian citizens based abroad with “accomplices” inside Russia.



Storm strikes Malaysian state: 2 dead, 2,000 evacuated



KUALA LUMPUR (MALAYSIA): A northern Malaysian state has been paralyzed by a severe storm that led to two deaths and some 2,000 people evacuated in the worst flooding in years. Chief minister Lim Guan Eng says Penang, a popular tourist destination and manufacturing hub, has been hit by torrential rains and strong winds since late Saturday. Floodwaters have risen to 12 feet (3.6 meters), submerging houses in parts of the island. Army personnel have been deployed to help in the rescue operation. Lim says there’s no need to declare an emergency as the situation is under control. Prince Charles and his wife Camilla are due to visit Penang on Tuesday.



At least 75 dead in IS attack in Syria’s Deir Ezzor



BEIRUT: At least 75 civilians were killed in an Islamic State group car bombing that struck a gathering of people displaced by fighting in eastern Syria, a monitor said on Sunday. Saturday’s attack in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor killed “at least 75 displaced civilians including children” and wounded 140, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Abdel Rahman said the victims had fled battles in the province, where Syrian regime forces and a US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance, the Syrian Democratic Forces, are fighting the extremist group in separate offensives. The Britain-based war monitor, which relies on a network of sources on the ground inside Syria for its information, reported Saturday that dozens had died in the blast. Fighting across Deir Ezzor province has sent thousands of civilians fleeing for their lives, some straight into the desert.


Some had sought refuge in a desert area controlled by the SDF on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River where the Saturday bombing struck. It was not the first attack attributed to IS against civilians fleeing Deir Ezzor. On October 12, a car bombing in the northeastern province of Hasakeh killed at least 18 people, including displaced people and Kurdish security forces, the Observatory said. Sonia Khush, Syria director at the Save the Children charity, said Saturday an estimated 350,000 people have fled the recent fighting in Deir Ezzor province, half of them children. “The situation in the city, and surrounding countryside, has been especially bleak with civilians trapped between the fighting and all too often caught in the crossfire,” she said.

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