News Flash – 8 May 2018

National News



Gang robs gold, Rs 6 lakhs from TN bank at gunpoint



TRICHY: A five-member gang robbed Rs 6 lakh in cash and 10 sovereigns of gold jewellery from a Tamil Nadu Mercantile Bank branch at Mannargudi in Tiruvarur district on Monday afternoon. According to police, the gang members — two carrying guns and others carrying weapons entered the branch around 3pm while many staff members went out for lunch. Branch manager Govindarajan and another staff member were still there. The gang members, wearing gloves, entered the manager’s room and threatened him at gunpoint asking for the locker key. When the manager tried to say something, one of the robbers fired on the floor. As they could not get the locker key, the robbers entered the cashier cabin. They robbed Rs 6 lakh in cash and 10 sovereigns of gold jewellery and fled the scene. They did not inflict injuries on bank employees and customers. While escaping from the bank after robbery, they carried a digital video recorder (DVR), connected to CCTV cameras in the bank, with them. On information, the Tiruvarur police rushed to the spot and conducted an inquiry. Superintendent of police N M Mylvahanan also visited the bank and conducted an inquiry with the bank manager and others. Mylvahanan told reporters that four out of five gang members had entered the branch while the fifth one had remained outside the bank to ensure that their plan could not be spoiled. “No one was wearing masks. However, all of them had gloves. We will soon catch the robbers,” he added.



Mumbai rivers to soon get flood warning sensors


MUMBAI: In a first, five rivers in the city and two lakes are set to get flow level transmitters, which will remotely send the civic administration an early warning on days the level of water starts rising, especially after heavy rain. The seven long-arm devices, one for each of the seven water bodies, will work on solar power and are expected to cost Rs 70 lakh each. The BMC’s storm water drain (SWD) department is keen to install these transmitters before the arrival of rains in June. These transmitters will have a sensor, a transmitting system using SIM cards and GPS (global positioning system) and will send a message to the city’s disaster control unit as water level begins to rise, indicating location. “Currently, there is a flow level transmitter in Mithi river but our staff has to physically go and check the level of the water during heavy rains. With the new transmitters, it would be much easier as the message would be sent to the department concerned which can direct the administrative wards to take action,” said V Khankar, chief engineer of SWD department.


One of the major reasons for getting the transmitters was the need for an early warning so that low-lying areas near the river in spate can be evacuated before any mishap. “On heavy rain days during the monsoons, it is very important to evacuate those living around the rivers on time as any delay can lead to loss of life and property. The transmitters can give a live status of the rising level and we can start acting immediately,” said an official. The officials had initially settled on the five rivers, but added the two lakes because their overflow goes into the Mithi. Shiv Sena Corporator Tejasvee Abhishek Ghosalkar, whose ward has the Dahisar flowing through, appreciated such preventive measures but wanted more effort to rehabilitate those living around water bodies. Kalina Corporator Tulip Miranda, whose ward has both the Mithi and Vakola running through, felt such preventive action would encourage encroachers. “Today all the rivers are surrounded with illegal encroachments. In some cases, it is so bad that the encroachers have filled in the rivers and are staying on it. Making arrangements to evacuate such people would only encourage them further”.



Storm over a storm: Government, Metro issue advisories


NEW DELHI: With a number of government and local authorities issuing advisories and warnings over the weather conditions forecast for Tuesday, the regional Met office has asked people not to panic and said that while Delhi is expected to see light rain and gusty winds, the wind speed isn’t likely to exceed 50 km/hour and that such weather activity was “normal” for this time of the year. The Delhi government on Monday said a disaster helpline had been set up in preparation of the storm and that afternoon shift schools will remain closed on Tuesday as a matter of caution. The Delhi Metro and the traffic police also issued advisories for people on Monday, informing what precautions need to be taken, with the Metro saying trains may be stopped if the wind speed exceeds 90 km/hour. Regional Met officials TOI spoke to however said that the affect will not be much in Delhi with a maximum wind speed forecast of around 50 km/hour. “A drizzle is expected in the early hours of Tuesday and some light rain and thunderstorm activity will also take place through the day, accompanied by a squall. The gusty winds will be similar to what we experienced last week and it is not likely to cause much disruption,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, head of IMD’s Regional Weather Forecasting Centre here. The maximum temperature which touched 39.6 degrees Celsius at Safdarjung on Monday is likely to drop sharply to around 34 degrees on Tuesday. Palam meanwhile was the hottest location in Delhi on Monday, recording a high of 41 degrees Celsius.


The IMD had forecast thunderstorm accompanied with squall and hail very likely in isolated places over Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi for May 7 and 8. Referring to the warning, the Delhi government said necessary precautions were being taken, with search and rescue teams asked to be on standby while a disaster helpline — 1077 — had been activated. Officials said water and power agencies will also keep restoration teams ready, while the afternoon shift schools have been asked to stay shut as a matter of precaution. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), meanwhile, said that in case the capital witnesses a storm and high speed winds, trains would be slowed down as a precaution. “If the wind speed is reported in the range of 70-90kmph, train movement will remain normal but trains will enter with a restricted speed of 40kmph or less at platforms on the elevated section,” a DMRC spokesperson said. “If speeds are reported more than 90kmph, trains will be put on hold at platforms and no train will enter a platform with a speed of more than 15kmph. In this case, normal movement of trains will be restored once the wind speed is reported less than 85kmph for five minutes,” he said. “Appropriate announcements will be made at stations during this period,” the spokesperson said. The directorate of education has directed all schools in the city (government, aided and unaided) to suspend work during the evening (second) shift. It also advised the morning-shift schools to avoid outdoor activities, since the weather department has predicted that the storm is likely to peak in the capital by 5.30pm.



Delhi: 7 hurt as banquet hall caves in during renovation

Locals said the rear portion of the Pritam banquet hall was undergoing renovation and had 12 workers inside at that time of the incident.



NEW DELHI: Seven men were injured when the portion of a banquet hall, which is being renovated, collapsed in Gujranwala Town in northwest Delhi on Monday evening. The fire department got a call at 5.25pm and five fire tenders and over 40 firemen were sent to rescue the trapped men, said Atul Garg, chief fire officer of the Delhi fire department. DCP (northwest) Aslam Khan said an FIR had been lodged against the owner of the building, Manjeet Singh. Locals said the rear portion of the Pritam banquet hall, at B-54, Industrial Area on Old GT Karnal Road, was undergoing renovation and had 12 workers inside at that time of the incident. The roof and the left wall of the hall suddenly collapsed. While five workers came out without any injury with the help of local people, seven workers — identified as Surender (40), Bablu (36), Chander Bhan (40), Jai Kumar (40), Yogesh (40), Parmatma (42) and Parmod (24) — got trapped. While locals started looking for the workers, firemen and disaster management workers finally rescued them after removing a portion of the collapsed roof and wall.


Five workers were taken to Sunder Lal Hospital while two have been admitted to Deep Chand Bandhu Hospital. Two of them are critical with head injuries, the police said. Four private vehicles, parked near the building, were damaged. A preliminary probe has revealed that the workers were hired to extend the rear enclosure of the building, which also has a guest house at the front. The men were working without adequate safety gears, the police found. The collapse might have occurred due to lack of support pillars for the roof, sources said. A local, who was among the first to reach the spot, said there was a loud noise and dust enveloped the area. “It felt like a cylinder blast”. The police are trying to find out if Singh had taken all permissions for the renovation work.



International News



Hawaii eruptions spread, some residents warned to ‘go now’


PAHOA, Hawaii: Emergency authorities battling lava flows and gas erupting from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano warned some residents to “go now” as a new fissure opened and more structures were destroyed. The volcano has destroyed 26 homes and forced 1,700 people to leave their residences since Thursday’s eruption, spewing lava and toxic gas from volcanic vents in the eastern corner of Hawaii’s Big Island, home to about 200,000 people. A new fissure opened Sunday night in the Leilani Estates area some 12 miles (19 km) from the volcano, prompting a cellphone alert for residents to leave homes to avoid sulfur dioxide gas, which can be life threatening at high levels. So far no deaths or major injuries have been reported, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said. Evacuees from Leilani Estates were allowed to return for pets, medications and to check property on Sunday. Jeremy Wilson found his home surrounded by fissures hundreds of feet long. “My house is right in the middle,” said Wilson, a 36-year-old social worker who turned back when he saw steam coming from cracks in the road.


Early Monday, 161 people were housed at two shelters on the island, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said. The semi-rural wooded area of Leilani Estates had become a magnet for newcomers to Hawaii who were prepared to risk living near an active volcano for more affordable real-estate. Eruptions of lava and gas were expected to continue, along with aftershocks from Friday’s 6.9 magnitude earthquake, the largest in the area since 1975, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Jessica Gauthier, 47, said she and other local real estate agents had seen vacation renters cancel their reservations, though the volcanic activity is far from tourist centers. “There’s no way to know that if you’re sitting in your living room in Ohio and watching the national news,” she said. Hawaii’s 4,028-square-mile (10,432-square-km) Big Island accounts for less than a fifth of the state’s tourism. State data show that in the first three months of 2018, 16 percent of the $4.81 billion visitors spent in Hawaii came from the big island, less than half of the levels seen in Oahu and Maui. Gauthier predicted tourism would pick back up as a new kind of visitor began to appear.



Saudi airstrikes hit presidency building in Yemen, killing 6



SANAA: Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen‘s Shiite rebels targeted the presidency building in the heart of the Yemeni capital on Monday, leaving at least six people dead and 30 wounded, according to health officials. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the six killed were all civilians. It was not known if there were any Houthi rebel leaders inside the presidency at the time of the airstrikes in Sanaa and if there were any casualties among them. The three-floor presidency building was completely flattened while surrounding buildings in the city’s busy Tahrir district _ including a famous five-star hotel _ were heavily damaged. Cars were charred and pools of blood covered the pavement. Many were believed to have been buried under the rubble. Ambulances rushed to the area to retrieve the casualties. The Saudi-led coalition has been at war with the Houthis since 2015 to restore the country’s internationally recognized government to power. The war has killed over 10,000 people and driven 3 million from their homes.


Last month, the coalition killed a top Houthi leader, Salah al-Sammad in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida. Al-Sammad was also the acting president of the territory under rebel control while the Houthis’ leader, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, has mostly kept out of the public eye, addressing Yemenis only in occasional newscasts on rebel-run outlets. Monday’s airstrikes appeared to have targeted al-Sammad’s successor, Mahdi al-Mashat. Witnesses described a scene of devastation. One resident said he saw bodies blown up before his eyes, a body thrown by the force of the blast against a shop and a car washer killed by shrapnel. The eyewitnesses spoke on condition of anonymity fearing reprisals. Windows of surrounding houses were shattered while the nearby Sheba hotel had its window and entrance door blown out. Security forces cordoned off the area and forced journalists away from the site area. The sprawling presidency compound in Tahrir consists of several buildings, walled off from the rest of the district. Images that surfaced on social media in the aftermath of the strikes show bloodied faces of the wounded and columns of smoke rising over Sanaa.

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