News Flash – 7 September 2018

National News



Drones set to fly in as lifesavers in rural Maharashtra

(L to R) Arunabha Bhattacharya, Harish Warbhe, Anshul Sharma, Deepak Menaria and Rishabh Gupta with the drone that can carry four units of blood and 1.5kg medicines. They will begin operation in Maharashtra in mid-2019.



Nagpur: Three enterprising youngsters in the age group of 23 to 25, including one from Nagpur, are all set to revolutionize supply of blood to patients in remote, rural areas. They will be using drones to deliver not just blood but also vaccines, emergency medicines, anti-snake venom serum and lifesaving equipment like defibrillators to patients. With 19 successful deliveries in rural areas of Karnataka, West Bengal and Nepal, Bloodstream has proven its worth. Anshul Sharma, co-founder and CEO of Air Aid Pvt Ltd, which runs Bloodstream, told TOI that the company will help governments make rapid, on-demand, cross country deliveries of blood and medicines. Bloodstream has tied up with Dr Harish Warbhe, director of Lifeline Blood Bank in the city, for supply to Vidarbha in Maharashtra. Lemon Ideas has provided a fillip by incubating the company. Bloodstream’s chief technical officer and co-founder, Arunabha Bhattacharya from West Bengal, says that ‘Magnum’ (the in-house drone) meets all safety standards announced by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). “There are no chances of any interference with normal air traffic, as we would be flying much lower, and in areas where there is no air traffic. Ours is Asia’s first medical drone delivery system,” he said. Weighing 9kg, the drones can carry 1.5kg medicine and can make a 105km round trip on a single battery charge, even in wind and rain, Bhattacharya said. Rishab Gupta, chief financial officer, said Bloodstream will be able to integrate itself into the Maharashtra health supply chain by March 2019, and are planning to start operations and deliver blood by mid-2019. West Bengal and Nepal are next on the radar.


Sharma, who did his engineering from Singapore, said that millions of units of blood are discarded every year in India because of limited shelf life after donation and the lack of cold chain infrastructure required for transport and storage in rural areas. On the other hand, India has an annual shortfall of 3 million units of blood. Lack of timely availability of blood, plasma or platelets often becomes the cause for maternal mortality due to blood loss. There are only 2,708 blood banks, which translates to one blood bank for 4.7 million Indians. Sharma said that blood inventory problem cannot be solved solely by building more blood banks since wastage increases with each additional blood bank. Bloodstream uses its drones, data science and cloud-based inventory management system to solve this complex logistical problem. The drone works on GPS based technology and is completely autonomous. “We are a team of three, like ‘The Three Idiots’, who believe that this is the right time to launch our project. Two years earlier or later would not have clicked. We had been researching together in our own fields. There have been some frustrating times, but things have been great otherwise. It is the right time also because DGCA released the drone regulations just a week ago,” said Sharma.



11-year-old on sinking boat risks life thrice to save mom


Guwahati: Eleven-year-old Kamal Kishore Das braved the strong current of a swollen Brahmaputra river and put his life in danger by jumping into it thrice within 20 minutes even after safely reaching the bank, to save his mother and aunt. His only regret—he could not save a woman and her child even after pulling them to safety. “I had just pulled out my mother and my aunt when I saw a woman in burqa and a child in her arms struggling to stay afloat. I jumped again into the water and pulled both of them to the concrete slabs of the pillars of a water reservoir on the river. Unfortunately, the child slipped into the water from the woman’s hands and was swept away by the river. The woman too jumped into the river and I saw her being swept away into the river before I could take another jump,” Kamal told TOI. Kamal, a class VI student of St Anthony’s School at north Guwahati, was returning home along with his mother and aunt after dropping his grandmother at her home in Guwahati when the ill-fated country boat they were riding capsized and sank in the Brahmaputra river.



ISRO Satellites played key role in Kerala flood rescue operations



Mumbai: Isro’s satellites and radars played a key role during the recent monsoon crisis in Kerala. Their predictions helped local authorities in putting into place safety measures, according to the space agency, on Wednesday. It said that Isro not only extended support through its space-based assets, but ground-based sensors as well. Two of Isro radars, a C-band polarimetric Doppler Weather Radar located at the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launch Station, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, and an S-band DWR at Kochi monitored the weather 24X7 up to 500 km. These radars were installed by the radar development area of Isro’s telemetry tracking and command network in Bengaluru. The data was made available in real time for the public. So the radars helped in long-range weather surveillance in Kerala.



Another worker found dead, toll at 3


Kolkata/Behrampore: The death toll in the Majerhat bridge crash rose to three as the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) brought out the body of another Metro railway worker from under the debris on Thursday morning and ended their 36-hour long rescue operation at 6.35am. Goutam Mondal (45), who used to work as a cook at the Metro construction site for the last four years, was missing since the bridge had collapsed on Tuesday evening. Around 4.30am on Thursday, he was found stuck under a concrete pillar lying. For the next two hours the NDRF personnel worked to cut a portion of the pillar and lift it to bring out Goutam’s body. The relief workers said the Mondal had died long ago. His son Toton Mondal, who also works as a labourer at the same construction site identified him and accompanied the body to SSKM Hospital where his post mortem was conducted. Later, his body was sent to his house in Murshidabad’s Tentulia. “My father was chopping vegetables in the makeshift kitchen under the bridge when the accident happened. All this while I was praying for a miracle and was hoping that he would be alive.


But after the rescuers called me to the site early on Thursday to check if it was my father, who was stuck under the pillar, my hopes were shattered,” said Toton. before leaving the city with his father’s body on Thursday. Gautam is survived by his son Toton and wife Anita, who was not informed about Mondal’s death till team of government officials reached her door with the compensatory cheque of Rs 5 lakh, which the chief minister had announced for every bridge victim. Incidentally, the other deceased Metro worker, Pranab Dey (24), was also a resident of Murshidabad. P Ulaganathan, the Murshidabad district magistrate said: “We have given the cheques of Rs 5 lakhs to the family members of both the victims”. “We were told only two labourers were stuck under the debris. One of them could be brought out on Wednesday evening and the other was pulled out around 6.30am on Thursday,” said Swayamvar Singh Khetri, the NDRF deputy commander.



Aircraft aborts landing after pilot spots vehicle on runway

QUICK THINKING: 1. IndiGo A320 aircraft on final approach for touchdown on 2nd runway around noon, as main runway is closed for work. The plane was gliding down from an altitude of 1,000ft to 500ft 2. The vehicle belonging to a contractor enters 2nd runway to pick up workers near it 3. The pilot spots the vehicle on time, lifts up and goes around.



Chennai: The pilot of an IndiGo aircraft had to abort his plan for landing and pull up after he spotted a vehicle crossing the runway at Chennai airport. The incident took place on Tuesday afternoon, when planes were being routed to land on the second runway as the main runway was closed for operation. Airports Authority of India (AAI) has kept the main runway closed for taxiway work daily, between 12.30pm and 6.30pm, and flights are handled by the second runway during the period. “The IndiGo A320 aircraft was on its final approach to touch down on the GST Road end of the second runway (03 end), when the pilot spotted the vehicle on the runway. He made a quick decision to not land and revved up and flew away,” said a source. Planes glide down from 1,000feet to 550feet during final approach. AAI and the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) are investigating the incident. Sources said the vehicle belonged to a contractor engaged for soil test in connection with the ongoing work to link the rapid exit taxiways to the main runway. The pilot reported the incident to the air traffic control and filed an incident report. An official said the driver drove the vehicle across the second runway thinking it was part of a road inside the airport, to pick up a few workers on the other side. Work is underway on both sides of the runway. Drivers engaged by contractors undergo a classroom training on speed limits and no-go zones before an airfield driving permit (ADP) is issued. A senior official said, “We stopped the runway work and did an investigation on the driver violating rules on driving inside an airfield”. Airport director G Chandramouli said, “A watch-and-ward stopped the vehicle immediately. This incident happened despite drivers engaged by contractors undergoing training. We have adopted remedial measures”. Sources said the incident points to poor coordination between the projects wing, which is in charge of the construction work, and staff in charge of operations at the airport.



National News



6.7 Temblor Jolts Japan, Leaves 9 Dead


Japan: Nature’s Fury a 6.7 magnitude earthquake rocked Japan’s island of Hokkaido on Thursday triggering dozens of landslides that crushed houses under torrents of dirt, rocks and timber and prompting frantic efforts to unearth survivors. Nine people were killed and 366 injured in the quake — the latest in an exhausting run of natural disasters for Japan. The quake came on the heels of a typhoon. The summer also brought devastating floods and landslides from torrential rains in Hiroshima and deadly hot temperatures across the country.



Dubai-New York flyers may have caught flu



New York: Eleven people on an Emirates flight were taken to a New York City hospital suffering flu-like symptoms on Wednesday after scores of passengers and crew complained of feeling sick during a 14-hour trip from Dubai, officials said. Laboratory tests on respiratory samples from the patients have yet to confirm the illness, but their histories and symptoms — fever, cough and vomiting — indicate influenza, said Dr Oxiris Barbot, New York City’s acting health commissioner. Some passengers in recent days had attended the annual Haj pilgrimage to the city of Mecca on the Arabian Peninsula, a region where the flu virus was circulating, and could have contracted the illness there, Barbot said. It was also possible the virus was transmitted between passengers during the lengthy flight, she said. All who were hospitalised were in stable condition and none was in need of “extreme” medical attention, Barbot said. The flu’s incubation period typically is one to seven days, Barbot said, and people who are infected can be contagious before showing signs of illness.


The airliner, with at least 521 passengers, landed at John F Kennedy International Airport and was surrounded by dozens of emergency vehicles as passengers waited to be evaluated by health officials. The airline and the mayor’s office said 19 people were confirmed ill. Three passengers and seven crew members went to a hospital, and nine other passengers medically evaluated at the scene were released afterward, Emirates said. The rest were allowed to leave and clear customs, the airline said. Dr Demetre Daskalakis, New York’s deputy commissioner for disease control, said it was rare for so many people aboard a single commercial flight to fall ill at once.

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