News Flash – 8 June 2017

National News



25 killed, 8 critically injured in Balaghat firecracker factory blast



BHOPAL: At least 25 people, mostly labourers, were killed and eight others critically injured in a major explosion in a firecracker factory in Balaghat district on Wednesday. The injured have been admitted to district hospital and Bhilai in neighbouring Chhattisgarh state. Explosions took place in the factory owned by Wahid Ahmed Warsi, situated in jungles near Samnapur road in Khairi village, some 7 kilometres from the district headquarters at around 4 pm. The cause of explosions is yet to be ascertained. It is said the blasts were so intense that sound of explosions was heard as far as five kilometres from the spot. The factory was earlier situated in a populated area but was shifted by the administration a couple of years ago. The factory owner is on the run, said sources. Police and sources who reached the spot informed that body parts were ripped off and strewn around in the factory premises. “Twenty-three bodies have been found and eight people are injured. Of the eight injured, two are admitted to the district hospital and six have been referred to Bhilai,” SP Balaghat Amit Sanghi told TOI.

“We started rescue works as soon as the information was received. Due to absence of a proper approach road, the fire-tenders had problem in reaching the spot, however it did not affect the rescue works much,” he said. “All the deceased are locals and only 14 bodies could be identified, so far. There is no minor among the deceased,” he said. “Prima facie investigations reveal that the factory was licensed since 2003,” said Sanghi. District administration has ordered a magisterial probe headed by the additional district magistrate to probe into the incident. “Rescue works continued till late in the night. A magisterial probe has been ordered into the incident. Some of the bodies were in such a condition that their identification could not be done till now. Most of them are presumed to be women and they were labourers who worked at the cracker factory,” district collector Bharat Yadav said. “An ex-gratia relief of Rs 20,000 was provided to the kin of the deceased from Red Cross while the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced a relief of Rs 2 lakh to the kin of the deceased. Minister in-charge of the district has also announced a relief of Rs 10,000 each to the kin of the deceased. Besides, the kin of deceased are also eligible for a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each as per the norms prescribed in the revenue book code. The injured are being provided a relief of Rs 50,000 each and the treatment costs are being borne by the state government,” Yadav added.



‘Fire brigade took forever to arrive’



NEW DELHI: “We had lost hope of the fire service ever coming to help us,” said Ankush, whose family was trapped in a blazing building early on Tuesday in Trinagar. “It was only after an hour of trying to fight the flames with sand and extinguishers, we saw a fire tender approaching in the distance.” It was a dreadful time for the family of Rajesh, whose ground floor diagnostic centre caught fire and blocked the exit from the building. Naresh, brother of Rajesh who rushed to the spot from his house nearby, said that people tried every trick to douse the fire, but there wasn’t much they could do to bring out the trapped people. “Even though we broke the windows and some of us entered the building, we could not pull anyone out of the building,” said Naresh.

Family members called the police control room and fire department around 2.20am. But, they complained, the fire tender did not turn up till after 3.30 am. Two men went to the Keshavpuram fire station, where they were told there were no fire engines there. Fire officials later claimed that teams were attending an emergency in Wazirpur. It was the Moti Nagar fire station that responded. “We received a call at 2.35am, informing us of the meter board catching fire and accordingly, we sent a single fire tender to the spot,” said Atul Garg, chief fire officer. A senior fire officer said it took five hours to control the fire. “Seven members of the family who were on the terrace of the building were brought down,” he said.



At 99.8%, it’s almost perfect for Khed girl



MUMBAI: Since the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) announced its Class X results, the Joshi residence in the small town of Khed in Ratnagiri has been hustling with visitors to congratulate 15-year-old Saloni who has scored 99.8%. She lost only one mark in English. Saloni, daughter of two doctors, has been basking in the glory and is waiting to celebrate her achievement with her parents. “Since I live in a small town, the news spreads quickly and people started coming in. I haven’t really celebrated yet. I was expecting a perfect score in mathematics and Marathi but the marks in social science and science came as a surprise,” she said.

A student of Rotary English School, Khed, and the girl now has her eyes set on the NEET examination. “I love mathematics and biology equally but since my parents are doctors, I naturally developed an interest. However, I am yet to decide on my specialization. Being in a small town, I sometimes do not get the clear picture of how things are and hence I want to wait to gain some experience,” she said. Saloni said regularity was the key to her almost perfect score. “At my school, there was supervised study which helped me. Also, I began practicing papers three months ahead of the exams. There was a healthy competition in the school too which pushed me to perform better,” she said. Her father, Dr. Anil Joshi, said the score was beyond their expectations. “She has always been a brilliant student and we were expecting her to score around 98-99%,” he said.



Huge haul of party drug alarms Delhi Police



NEW DELHI: This is the second time Delhi Police has laid its hands on MDMA. The last seizure of this drug was in 2013 when the crime branch had nabbed a Nigerian national with 400 grams of MDMA worth Rs 1 crore. The consignment was being flown in from Bengaluru, hidden in Golf kits. Since then, MDMA had been available only in minuscule quantity to the city’s drug users, cops said. However, with the latest seizure of five kg of ‘ice’, the cops are really alarmed. TOI had reported on Tuesday that drug seizures had seen an unusual spike this year. According to police and Narcotics Control Bureau, the demand of cocaine has touched a new high, of late. MDMA is mostly used in rave parties. It is extremely popular among drug addicts as it provides a “pleasant high”. The drug is found in crystal or powder form. MDMA is mixed with meth or speed and the end product is called Ecstasy (pills).

MDMA is being consumed not only by youths but also middle-aged working professionals. TOI spoke to a 26-year-old user, who works for a web portal. “I believe MDMA is safer than other party drugs. It is not very addictive and still allows the user to have control over himself. It can induce anxiety if done without music and crowd, so I avoid doing it alone. The energy can keep you going for several hours and it’s a trip, which swings between a high and a low till it finally subsides. You feel euphoric and happy, and it stimulates you a lot,” he said. Cases of teenagers dying or getting hospitalised after overdosing on MDMA keep on surfacing from time to time. An ‘ice’ user can suffer a heatstroke and water intoxication because he/she may develop a tendency to drink a lot of water after getting high, which may ultimately cause a cardiac arrest. Last week, a 15-year-old boy died after allegedly consuming MDMA at a house party in Devon, England.



Hyderabad ready, hook, line and sinker, for Fish Prasadam



HYDERABAD: Fish Prasadam will be distributed on June 8 and June 9 at exhibition grounds in Nampally with the event expected to start around 8:30 am. The state government directed the fisheries department to provide one lakh fishes to the Bathini family to prepare ‘fish prasadam’ which is believed to cure asthma. Lakhs of people throng the grounds for the medicine. Hyderabad-based Battini Goud family has been dispensing the ‘fish prasadam’ every year for several decades. The people who come to take the medicine swallow a small live fish stuffed with a herbal paste. The authorities have made arrangements to ensure that the programme is carried out without any obstacles. Officials from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, police department, animal husbandry and Telangana State Disaster Response and Fire Services Department have inspected the venue. Total 35 surveillance cameras have been installed to monitor the event, a temporary room has also been set up by the authorities to monitor the event.

“Around 1,000 police personnel will be deployed for the event, apart from them several organisations will assist the police, “said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) D Joel Davis speaking to TOI. Some of the individuals and organisations are expected to participate in the event by supplying the visitors with water, food, butter milk etc. A family from Mahabubnagar district was spotted at Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS) also known as earlier known as Imlibun bus depot who came to take the fish medicine. “I consume fish prasadam every year, my asthma has been cured but still I take this medicine, said a woman spotted at MGBS. As few people in the old city consider eating fish or eating in the day of fish medicine or before the arrival of monsoon can keep prevent asthama. Crowd was also witnessed at several fish stalls in the Old city. “This has been like a ritual every year to eat the fish on the day or a day before the medicine is given in Hyderabad. I am unaware about its medical benefits”, said Naresh M spotted at Begum Bazar.



Debris crashes at site of demolition, suspended



CHENNAI: The demolition of The Chennai Silks showroom in T Nagar, which was destroyed in a fire last week, had to be stopped briefly after a large chunk from the top portion of the building crashed on Wednesday. No one was injured in the incident. The work to pull down the eight-storey building started last Friday. The top portion of the building fell when a jaw-cutter was working its way around 6.15pm. The debris fell in a cloud of smoke and created panic among the workers. Since the fire, the area had been cordoned off and residents evacuated from the nearby buildings, for the safety of shoppers. A police officer said the debris fell on a hydraulic pipe used by the machine and started a leak. The demolition was stopped for around 40 minutes and workers were engaged in cleaning and repairing of the hydraulic pipe to avoid further accidents due to the leak.

Fire and rescue services had said the demolition would be completed in two days. However, the contractor who is engaged in the work said it would take another week before it could be pulled down. As the structure is damaged in the fire that raged for two days, pulling it down can only be done in a gradually otherwise it would lead to a collapse that may endanger other buildings in the vicinity, said an official. The fire had first broken out around 4.30am on May 31 and gutted the building but flames continued to be seen in various parts of the structure in the following days, delaying the demolition process. Usman Road flyover is still out of bounds for vehicles in view of the safety concerns.



Indian Navy to pick, train little sailors for life in uniform

All these young sailors have been trained by the Yacht Club of Hyderabad.


HYDERABAD: Six children from underprivileged backgrounds aged between 11 to 15 years will soon join the sailing teams of the Indian Army and Navy and thereafter qualify for direct entry to the forces after finishing their education at Kendriya Vidyalaya. These young sailors are children of farmers, farm labourers, auto drivers and waiters belonging to marginalized communities. All of them have been trained by the Yacht Club of Hyderabad. The boys come from small towns like Pargi and Vikarabad and study at SWAEROES – government schools in Telangana for poor children. One of the children, Durga Prasad, hails from Rasoolpura and studies at Udbhav School. He learnt sailing in 2015 and within a span of two years represented India at the World Championships in July in Thailand. He will leave for Goa at the end of July to join the Navy training-and-education programs headed by Rear Admiral Monty Khanna. Thereafter, Prasad will represent the Navy at all championships. Vamshi and Vijay have been selected to join the Army Sports School at Bangalore run by the Madras Engineers Regiment. Mallesh Sachin and Vishvanath would join the Navy with Durga Prasad at Goa at their spanking new facility. “I had always wanted marginalized and neglected children to stand on their own feet in a profession of their choice and now I am happy to see that my dream for them has come true,” said Suheim Sheikh, coach and founder of Yacht Club of Hyderabad.



International News



Spanish man who fought off London attacker confirmed dead

‘Skateboard hero’ Ignacio Echeverria confirmed dead by family after London attack.


MADRID: The family of a Spanish man who used his skateboard to try to defend a woman from one of the assailants during the London attack confirmed on Wednesday that he had died, after a wait of close to four days. “Ignacio didn’t survive the attacks,” Ignacio Echeverria‘s sister Ana wrote on her Facebook page. His other sister Isabel also confirmed his death on her Facebook page. “We want to see and be with Ignacio’s body. It seems that we won’t be able to be with his body until Friday at the earliest,” she added. Spain’s foreign ministry also confirmed that Echeverria, a 39-year-old HSBC expert in the fight against money-laundering, had died in Saturday’s attack that saw three assailants in a van mow down people on a bridge and then go on a stabbing spree. “Ignacio Echeverria’s exemplary attitude during the attacks is, for all, a model of solidarity,” it said in a statement. “His courage in defending a defenseless person helps to remember the necessity of remaining united in the face of the scourge of terrorism, faced with those who make violence and terror their only language”.

Echeverria’s friend said he spotted him during the short, panic-ridden rampage trying to defend a woman from one of the assailants with his skateboard. He was last seen lying on the ground and had been missing since. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in which police have now confirmed that eight people were killed. Echeverria’s friend said he spotted him during the short, panic-ridden rampage trying to defend a woman from one of the assailants with his skateboard. He was last seen lying on the ground and had been missing since. Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido denounced what he called the sluggish pace of the British victim identification process, calling it “inhumane” for Echeverria’s family.



Debris from Myanmar military plane carrying over 100 people found in sea: Official

A representative image. This file photo shows a Myanmar Air Force Shaanxi Y-8 transport aircraft, similar to the aircraft carrying over 100 people that went missing between the southern city of Myeik and Yangon.


YANGON: Debris of a Myanmar military plane which went missing with more than 100 soldiers and family members aboard were found in the Andaman Sea late on Wednesday, a local official said. Navy ships and aircraft had been searching since the afternoon when the plane lost contact with air traffic controllers. More than a dozen children were believed to be among the passengers on the plane travelling from the southern city of Myeik to Yangon. “Now they have found pieces of the damaged plane in the sea 136 miles (218 km) away from Dawei city,” said Naing Lin Zaw, a tourism official in Myeik, adding the navy was still searching the sea. An air force source confirmed to AFP that a navy search and rescue ship had found pieces of the plane in the sea an hour’s flight south of Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial capital. The commander in chief’s office said the plane lost contact at about 1.35pm (07:05 GMT) off Myanmar’s southern coast. There was conflicting information about the number of people on board. Giving an updated figure, the office said 106 passengers were on board — soldiers and family members — along with 14 crew. The air force source said more than a dozen of those on board were children. Four naval ships and two air force planes were sent to search for the plane, which was flying at an altitude of more than 18,000 feet (5,486 metres).

It is monsoon season in Myanmar but there were no reports of bad weather at the time the plane went missing. The plane was a Y-8F-200 four-engine turboprop, a Chinese-made model still commonly used by Myanmar’s military for transporting cargo. The Myanmar army said it was delivered in March last year and had logged 809 flying hours. The former military junta bought many of the aircraft from Myanmar’s giant neighbour during their 50 years of isolated rule, when they were squeezed by Western sanctions. A former executive at the aviation ministry said many of the aircraft in Myanmar’s fleet were old and decrepit. Myanmar’s military fleet has a chequered recent history of plane crashes. All five crew died when an air force plane burst into flames soon after taking off from the capital Naypyidaw in February last year. Three army officers were killed in June when their Mi-2 helicopter crashed into a hillside and burst into flames in south-central Bago. A surge in demand for air travel as Myanmar opens up has stretched the impoverished country’s aviation infrastructure, in particular in remote airports. Commercial jets have also suffered frequent incidents. The worst in recent years was in 2012 when an Air Bagan jet crash-landed in thick fog and burst into flames short of the runway at Heho airport, killing one passenger and a motorcyclist on the ground.



Suicide attacks on Parliament, Khomeini tomb in Iran; ISIS claims responsibility

Smoke is seen during a gunmen attack at the parliament’s building in central Tehran.


TEHRAN: Attackers raided Iran’s parliament and set off a suicide bomb at the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran on Wednesday, killing at least 12 people in a twin assault at the heart of the Islamic Republic, Iranian media reported. The Iranian intelligence ministry said security forces had arrested a “terrorist team” planning a third attack, without giving further details. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement. It marks the first attack in Iran claimed by the ISIS, which is at war with Iranian-backed forces in Syria and Iraq. In a message posted through its Aamaq News Agency, the IS group claimed its fighters were behind the assaults. The attacks began mid-morning when assailants armed with Kalashnikov rifles stormed the parliament building. One of the attackers later blew himself up inside, where a session had been in progress, according to a statement carried by Iran’s state TV. Deputy interior minister Mohammad Hossein Zolfaghari told Iran’s state TV the apparently male attackers wore women’s attire. The attacks, targeting parliament and the shrine of the Republic’s revered founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, took place less than a month after the re-election of President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate. Three assailants, one with a pistol and two with AK-47 assault rifles, attacked the parliament building in central Tehran, lawmaker Elias Hazrati told state television. Iran’s state broadcaster IRIB reported that one attacker detonated a suicide vest there, though some other news agencies said the explosion might have been caused by grenades thrown by the assailants.

“I was passing by one of the streets. I thought that children were playing with fireworks, but I realized people are hiding and lying down on the streets,” Ebrahim Ghanimi, who was around the parliament building when the assailants stormed in, said. “With the help of a taxi driver, I reached a nearby alley”. Police helicopters circled over the parliament building and all mobile phone lines from inside were disconnected. Speaker Ali Larijani dismissed the attacks, saying they were a “trivial matter” and that security forces were dealing with them. About half an hour later, attackers opened fire at the mausoleum a few kilometres south of the city, wounding several members of the public, Iran’s English-language Press TV said. One attacker detonated a suicide vest, one was killed by security forces and other assailants were arrested, the Governor of Tehran was quoted as saying by IRIB. In addition to being lethal, the attack on the shrine of Khomeini is symbolically stunning. As Iran’s first Supreme Leader, Khomeini is a towering figure in the country and was its revolutionary leader in the 1979 ouster of the shah. “The atmosphere is tense. It is a blow to Rouhani. How can four armed men enter the parliament, where a very tight security has always been in place,” said a senior official, who asked not to be named. Rouhani retained power with a landslide victory over candidates supported by the hardline clergy and the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the country’s most powerful security force in charge of ensuring national security.

Iranian TV said parliament had resumed, and broadcast footage of what it said was the opening session proceeding normally. Interior minister Abdolrahman Fazli told ISNA he had convened a special meeting of the country’s Security Council. Jihadist groups have clashed frequently with security forces along Iran’s borders with Iraq and Afghanistan, but the country has largely escaped attacks within its urban centres. Iran, the predominant Shia power, has been helping both Iraq and President Bashar al-Assad‘s regime in Syria to battle IS. The jihadist group is under increasing pressure in both countries, having lost significant territory in the face of offensives now targeting its last two major urban bastions, Raqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq. IS published a rare video in Persian in March, warning that it “will conquer Iran and restore it to the Sunni Muslim nation as it was before”. IS and other extremists consider Shia to be apostates, and the video accuses Iranians of persecuting Sunnis over the centuries and into modern times. Militant groups are also known to operate in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province, which borders Pakistan and has a large Sunni community. Jaish-ul Adl (Army of Justice), which Tehran accuses of links with Al-Qaeda, has carried out several armed attacks inside Iranian territory in recent years. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday that attacks by IS in Europe and elsewhere showed that Western policies in the Middle East have backfired. “This is a fire that (Western powers) themselves ignited and now has backfired on them,” he told a gathering of senior officials in Tehran.

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