News Flash – 9 August 2019

National News



IMD: City can expect break from Rain this Weekend, but Red Alert on in Pune, Satara


Mumbai: This weekend, Mumbai, Thane and Palghar can expect a break from the heavy rain as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has withdrawn its ‘orange alert’ and forecast light to moderate rain. But the ‘red alert’ (very heavy rainfall, take action) for other parts in the state, including Pune, Satara and Sangli, is still in place for Thursday, said weathermen. Though the IMD had issued an ‘orange alert’—heavy to very heavy rains at isolated places—for Thursday, Mumbai remained comparatively dry the Santacruz observatory recorded 0.4mm rainfall in the 12-hour period ending 8.30pm. The total rainfall recorded till Thursday by IMD Colaba observatory was 1,791.2mm—392.7mm above normal —and by IMD Santacruz observatory, 2,454.3mm—943.6mm above normal. The rainfall recorded this month so far has been 474.4mm, which is almost 81% of the required August rain. The average rainfall required for the month of August is 585.2mm.



On Thursday, the total water stock in the seven lakes that cater to Mumbai’s drinking water needs stood at 13.03 lakh million litres or 90.07% of the required water stocks. The lakes need over 14 lakhs million litres of water till the end of monsoon. Weathermen said reduction in rain activity is expected in the coming days as the deep depression over the Bay of Bengal off north Odisha and West Bengal coast has weakened and now lies over north-east Chhattisgarh and nearby areas. “In view of its subsequent west-north westward movement, there is a likelihood of enhancement of rainfall over parts of Konkan region, but central Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai, will see a reduction in rainfall in the next two days,” said a weather official, requesting anonymity. IMD’s warning for fisherman is still in place with strong winds with speed reaching 45-55kmph gusting to 65kmph likely to prevail along and off Maharashtra-Goa coast till August 11.



Goa fights Worst Floods in 2 Decades; 1 Washed away & 150 Families Shifted

Floodwaters submerge a house in Revora; a man paddles through a submerged road in a Goa village on Thursday.



Panaji: A 25-year-old man was washed away and over 150 families were evacuated from the villages of North Goa in one of the worst floods that the state has witnessed in over two decades. The Met department extended the orange alert heavy to very heavy rainfall in many parts of the state for another 48 hours. Unprecedented rain for five days damaged crops, vehicles and properties and fire services personnel and Navy were roped in to carry out rescue operations. With roads to Belagavi in Karnataka cut off due to landslides, Goa has been witnessing shortage in supply of essential commodities like milk, meat, vegetables and fruit, with some restaurants forced to serve tea and coffee without milk. The water released from the Tillari dam flooded villages of North Goa and over 80 people had to be rescued.



“We have made provisions to shift more families if required,” he said. “We expect the situation to normalise in the next two-three days. Water levels will dip by Friday afternoon,” Goa CM Pramod Sawant said. Sawant said all help would be offered to people who have been affected by floods and rain through the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and Disaster Management Fund. The state government will also approach the Centre for help. The government has also directed collectors, deputy collectors and the agriculture department to conduct a survey to estimate the loss and damage, Sawant said. Director of health services Jose D’Sa said all primary health centres have been told to remain vigilant. Meanwhile, a rumour of fuel shortage in the state that started on social media turned into panic with people rushing to petrol pumps to stock up on fuel. The Goa petroleum dealers’ association also issued a statement that said there was absolutely no shortage of fuel in the state.



Rains Claimed 500 Lives and Damaged nearly 6L Houses between April & July

Heavy rains caused the Malaprabha river to overflow on Wednesday, causing floods in Munavalli village in Karnataka.



Bengaluru: As disaster management and defence teams evacuate people from flooded areas across the country at this moment, data from the ministry of home affairs shows that rains claimed 496 lives and damaged nearly 6 lakh houses and crops on over 4 lakh hectares between April 1and July17. Maharashtra recorded the most deaths (138) in the three-and-a-half-month period, followed by Bihar (78), Odisha (64) and Karnataka (57); the four states accounting for 68% of the lives lost. There were 7,102 livestock deaths in these months, of which 6,281 or 88% were reported from Odisha, 364 from Assam, 220 from Gujarat and 102 from Karnataka. Maharashtra reported 55 livestock deaths. Nearly 6 lakh houses and crops on 4 lakh hectares were also damaged in this period. Assam (2.52 lakh hectares) and Odisha reported all of the crop losses, with Odisha also recording the most damage to houses 5.5 lakh of the 6 lakh across India. These losses were mostly attributed to Cyclone Fani, which Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on August 6 estimated had cost his state Rs 24,176 crore. Data from the ministry also showed that there were 6,585 rain-related deaths between April 2016 and July 2019.



Bihar reported most of these deaths (14.7%), followed by Kerala (11%), West Bengal (10.1%), Maharashtra (7.9%) and Himachal Pradesh (7%). The Centre said in Parliament that the causes of floods, aside from rain itself, included “poor or inadequate drainage capacity, unplanned reservoir regulation and failure of flood control structures”. Reports from across the country in the past week have shown that states lack preparedness. Odisha and Andhra, however, reacted proactively to alerts from IMD and other agencies to limit casualties and damage from Fani. Separate data on flood-prone areas as estimated by the Jal Shakti ministry shows that about 50 lakh hectares in 29 states and two Union territories are flood-prone — with Andhra, UP and Bihar having the largest vulnerable areas. The Central Water Commission has admitted “it is not possible to provide protection” against floods of all magnitude. “Flood forecasting has been recognised as the most important, reliable and cost-effective, non-structural measure for flood mitigation,” it said.



8 Killed, over 9k Shifted as Heavy Rain Lashes Kerala

The Kerala chief minister’s office has directed all the district collectors to evacuate people from danger-prone areas.



Kerala: Heavy rain claimed eight lives in Kerala on Thursday as landslides and flooding wreaked havoc and over 9,500 people were shifted to relief camps, bringing back memories of the devastating deluge of August 2018. Disaster management authority sources said three people from Idukki, one each in Kannur, Palakkad and Thrissur and two in Wayanad died in rain-related incidents. A massive landslide was reported in Meppadi, Wayanad, where several people are reportedly missing and many buildings and vehicles were buried in the debris. Wayanad has been witnessing heavy rain for the past two days. The India Meteorological Department has issued red alerts for Friday for four districts Idukki, Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad. The state government has sought the help of the Army and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for rescue operations. The shutters of nine dams Maniyar, Kundala, Malankara, Peringalkuthu, Kanjirampuzha, Kakkayam, Kallarkutty, Lower Periyar and Mangalam have been opened. Besides road transport, train services were also affected with most trains running late by nearly five hours. The chief minister’s office has directed district collectors to evacuate people from danger-prone areas.



Post-Kashmir intel Alert prompts I-Day Security Boost at Airport


Kolkata: Domestic flyers departing Kolkata have been asked to report at least three hours early for check-in because of a high alert following intelligence inputs on a terror strike at Indian airports in the wake of the recent developments pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir and Independence Day next week. Passengers’ vehicles are being checked outside the airport and there is manual frisking at multiple points inside. This is likely to continue till the end of the month. In a tweet on Wednesday night, Kolkata airport authorities said, “In view of the increased security measures due to the forthcoming Independence Day, passengers travelling out of Kolkata airport are requested to report early for check-in to avoid missing their flight”. The advisory was issued days after the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security issued an alert saying all metro airports were vulnerable after the “recent developments pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir” and hinted that civil aviation was a soft target for terrorists. The alert will be in force till August 31, till any further order. Airport authorities said that while security is enhanced every year in the run-up to Independence Day, it is more stringent this year due to higher threat perception. “We are organizing random intensive checks on the city side of the airport. Suspicious vehicles are being stopped and checked thoroughly using under-view mirrors and security personnel are manually inspecting the vehicles’ boots and interiors,” said an airport official.



The official added that the bomb detection & disposal squad, armed with latest gear and sniffer dogs, have been posted outside the airport and two quick response team vehicles have been stationed at two ends of the airport. The deployment of CISF personnel has been doubled at the entrances and exits of the terminals. “The additional personnel have been deployed to ensure none slips out of the zone without furnishing necessary documents. Armed security men have also been kept on guard in case a terrorist attempt to barge in. Entry of visitors accompanying flyers is banned for the time being,” said a CISF official. Inside the terminal, over 24 plainclothes personnel have been deployed to conduct random scanning of passengers on the move. At the security check point, passengers are being asked to remove shoes, belts and every other accessory and pass them through the scanner. For registered baggage, a second layer of manual checking has been introduced after the X ray scan. CISF officials said the additional security measures are holding up each passenger at least an hour to 90 minutes more and are leading to long queues that almost reach the gates during peak hours. “We have started sending texts to flyers to report at least three hours before the flight departure,” said an official of an airline.



Residents of Railway Quarters on Edge after Burglaries

Significant quantities of gold and cash were stolen from the houses of mid and lower level employees in Egmore and Ayanavaram.



Chennai: Residents of railway colonies in Egmore and Ayanavaram are in fear after a spate of thefts in the last few months, sources in Southern Railway said. Significant quantities of gold and cash were stolen from houses of mid and lower level employees in apartments as well as independent houses in these colonies. When TOI visited the Egmore colony on Thursday, residents said the items stolen ranged from two-wheelers, small household items to LPG cylinders. As per information available with TOI, there were at least 15 such instances in the recent past. In all cases, the locks on either the front or the back door were broken open and valuables from inside stolen. “At least Rs.10 lakhs cash and 150 sovereigns of gold (worth Rs.36 lakhs) have gone missing,” said railway sources. In the latest case registered by the Egmore police on Tuesday, the house of Dr S Senthilkumar, senior divisional medical officer in Perambur Railway Hospital, was burgled. A copy of the FIR is with TOI. Senthilkumar resides in a second floor flat in an apartment complex in the Egmore colony.



Senthilkumar told TOI that the he had locked the front door and left for work at 9 am on Tuesday. When he returned, the lock was broken and two almirahs inside the house were damaged. In all, 18 sovereigns of gold (Rs.3.4 lakhs) he saved over three years was stolen. “It looks like the almirahs were broken open. There must have been a huge sound but the neighbours did not hear anything,” he told TOI. Railway sources said some employees are afraid of reporting thefts to the police as questions may be raised about the quantum of cash and sources of jewellery stolen. A senior official said the colonies were an easy target as employees were away from home during fixed timings making it easier for burglars. Outsiders can easily enter the colonies as there is little policing. “Absence of CCTV cameras is an encouragement for burglars,” he said.



International News



Russia Rocket Engine Blast Kills 2; Radiation Spikes, Shipping Shut

A 2011 photo of the military base in Nyonoska in Arkhangelsk region.



Moscow: Two people were killed and a nearby city reported a spike in radiation levels when a rocket engine blew up at a testing site in northern Russia on Thursday, forcing authorities to shut down part of a bay in the White Sea to shipping. The brief spike in radiation reported by authorities in the nearby city of Severodvinsk, inhabited by 185,000 people, apparently contradicted the defence ministry, which had earlier been quoted by state media as saying radiation was normal. RIA news agency quoted the defence ministry as saying no dangerous substances had been released into the atmosphere by the explosion of what it called a liquid-propellant rocket engine in the Arkhangelsk region. In addition to the two deaths, it said six people were injured in the blast. “A short-term rise in background radiation was recorded at 12 o’clock in Severodvinsk,” Ksenia Yudina, a spokeswoman for the city authorities, said.



A statement on the city’s website did not specify how high radiation levels had risen, but said the level had fully “normalised”. The rocket engine explosion occurred at a weapons testing area near the village of Nyonoksa in Arkhangelsk region, the Interfax news agency cited unnamed security sources as saying. Russian media said an area near Nyonoksa is used for tests on weapons including ballistic and cruise missiles used by the Russian navy. An official at the northern port of Arkhangelsk said an area of the Dvina Bay in the White Sea had been closed to shipping for a month because of the incident. “The area is closed,” the official, Sergei Kozub, said, without giving further details. Officials did not give full details about the size or location of the area that was closed, but it did not appear to include Arkhangelsk itself, a major port for the export of oil products and coal.

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