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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Teens drinking hand sanitizers for a quick high

Washington: Following the trend of cough medicine, hand sanitizer is the latest in a string of household items used to induce intoxication and has public health officials worried as a few squirts of it could equal a couple of shots of hard liquor. 
    As many as six California teenagers were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning last month, and two last weekend alone, from drinking hand sanitizer. "This is a rapidly emerging trend," ABC News quoted Cyrus Rangan, medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, as saying. 
    About 2,600 cases have been reported in California since 2010, but it's become a national problem. 
    "It's not just localized to us," Helen Arbogast, an injury prevention coordinator in the trauma programme at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, said.
    "Since 2009 we can see on YouTube it's in all regions of the country. We see it in the south, in the midwest, in the east," Arbogast said. 
    Liquid hand sanitizer is 62% to 65% ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, the main ingredient in beer, wine and spirits, making it 120-proof. To compare, a bottle of vodka is 80-proof. "A few swigs is all it takes to get a person to get the intoxicated effects of alcohol," Rangan said. 
    According to doctors, ingesting hand sanitizer can produce the same side effects as consuming large amounts of alcohol — slurred speech, unresponsiveness, possibly falling into a coma state. 
    Rangan warned that long-term use could lead to brain, liver and kidney damage. Teenagers use salt to break up the alcohol from the sanitizer to get a more powerful dose. These distillation instructions can be found on the internet in tutorial videos that describe in detail how to do it. 
    Sean Nordt, director of toxicology at USC Los Angeles county emergency department, said he used to get reports of children accidentally consuming small amounts of hand sanitizer, but now the trend is toward purposeful ingestion by those who cannot purchase or obtain alcohol legally. ANI

Suspected cholera case reported from SoBo

Civic Authority Denies Cholera & Will Check Supply For Contamination; Guidelines Being Drawn Up For Water Problems

 Asuspected cholera case was reported at Saifee Hospital on Monday. A 45-year-old woman from an affluent south Mumbai family was brought to Saifee with symptoms of cholera and shifted to Kasturba Hospital the next day, from where the family shifted her to a private hospital. However, the BMC denied the woman had cholera. 
    According to sources 
in Saifee Hospital, the woman, from a Girgaum high-rise, had diarrhoea and was passing frequent "rice-water" stools. Doctors from the hospital said she tested positive for the hanging-drop test (the initial test for cholera). The hospital, however, transferred her to Kasturba Hospital on Tuesday night. "We realized it will be best if she was admitted in Kasturba Hospital, where all cases of infectious diseases are sent," said a Saifee Hospital source. 
    But the patient didn't want to be treated at Kasturba. "A case was brought to the hospital on Tuesday night, but the family took a discharge against medical advice on Tuesday night itself," said Dr Umesh Aigal, medical superintendent of Kasturba Hospital. The patient's family refused to comment. 
    The BMC denied the woman was suffering from cholera. BMC executive health officer, Anil Bandivdekar said, "Doctors from the private hospital may have felt she suffered from cholera, but her reports were negative. She was even taken away by her family within a few hours of admission to Kasturba." 
    "The test at Saifee was positive but the second (at Kasturba) was negative. Now the sample has been sent for the ELISA test. But that is likely to come negative, because by the time her second sample was taken, she was already on treatment," said a doctor from Kasturba. 
    Cholera has been never mentioned in BMC health files as officials say "its mere occurrence could attract international travel sanctions". Cholera is highly infectious and can spread within the community in a few hours. In recent years it is more manageable, but the BMC refrained from naming it. New Delhi and Chennai record hundreds of cholera cases every year, but BMC records always show zero cases. 
    Experts say water contaminated because of the old pipelines in Mumbai—especially in the island city—can be blamed for cholera. "The water pipes are structured in such a way that clean and waste water pipes run sideby-side. They are so old that if rusted, there may be mixing of water. Water is thus not contaminated from the source," said an official from the hydraulic department. 
    The BMC is sending a team to Girgaum. "We will check the water for contamination. If found unfit for consumption, then the source of contamination will be found and treated," said the official. About the Disease Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that leads to watery diarrhoea. It is caused by the bacterium vibrio cholerae. The bacteria give out a toxin that increases release of water in the intestine, which, in turn, leads to severe diarrhoea. Cholera occurs in places with poor sanitation, crowding, war and famine RISK FACTORS Exposure to contaminated or to untreated drinking water Living in or travelling to areas where cholera 
has been reported 
SYMPTOMS Watery diarrhoea that starts suddenly and has a 'fishy' odour, vomitting, abdominal cramps, dry skin, excessive thirst, low urine output, nausea and rapid dehydration COMPLICATIONS TREATMENT 
Other than intestines, it affects the stomach and kidneys due to dehydration. In severe cases, it can lead to renal failure. If left untreated, it could prove fatal. But with adequate fluids and treatment, most recover Usually antibiotics such as tetracyclines are administered, but the top priority is rehydration. There are vaccines for the infection, but since their efficacy hasn't been proved yet, they are rarely used in India ADVISORY 
Boil water before drinking Avoid eating food 
from unknown water sources 
Avoid consuming ice or cool drinks from roadside vendors Maintain 
hygiene in your surroundings TESTS TO DETERMINE CHOLERA 
HANGING DROP TEST 
The test determines bacterial motility. A glass slide, with a small concave portion in the middle, is used to "hang" (mixed with a diluent) a living microorganism which is examined under the microscope. Results can come within four hours 
ELISA TEST 
An ELISA test uses components of the immune system and chemicals to detect immune responses in the body. ELISA tests are relatively accurate tests and are considered highly sensitive and specific. But results can take up to three days PREVENTION 
Wash hands regularly, avoid areas with cholera outbreaks, drink boiled water




Stricter fire safety norms for hosps, nursing homes 67 Hosps Get Notice From BMC For Violation

Mumbai: Months after a fire killed 91 people at a hospital in Kolkata,thefiredepartmentof the BMC is intensifying its drive against hospitals and nursing homes. In fact, it has now completed the guidelines for nursing homes. 
    The state government had passed a resolution in the winter session last year, making it mandatory for nursing homes to obtain a no-objection certificate from the fire department. Accordingly, the fire brigade has begun framing guidelines andisexpectedtofinalizethem by the end of the month. According to an official,while guidelines for hospitals with over 100beds arein place,thefirebrigade has made new fire safety rulesfor nursing homes. 
    "Most hospitals in the city have fire department's no-objection certificatebutitwas not a requirement for nursing homes.After thestateorder,we made guidelines andcirculated them to nursing homes," said a fireofficial. 
    The guidelines include having active measures like smoke detection system, fire extinguishers and passive ones like having a broad staircase, clear exits andsoon. 
    There are approximately 1,500 nursing homes in the city. According to the new rules, a nursing home which comes for renewal every year will have to take an NOC from the fire department. Usually, the renewals happen during April and May, said officials. "As and when we are getting applications for renewal, we are forwarding them to the fire department.Thedepartmentis checking if nursing homes have the mandatory fire safety measures," said executive health officer Anil Bandiwadekar. 
    Meanwhile, the BMC is looking to intensify its drive against hospitals. "We gave noticesto67hospitalswhichwere flouting safety rules. They had been given a period of 120 days to comply with the rules. We will start inspecting these hospitals in the first week of May and those which have not complied face punishment under the Maharashtra Fire Safety Act," said additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar.As many as37of thesehospitalswere private,17BMC-run and 13 run by the government. The punishment could include prosecution, revocation of licence, and in some cases, closure,said an official.


The fire at AMRI, Kolkata, was a wake-up call for hospitals


Monday, April 23, 2012

India is likely to have normal monsoon in 2012

(Reuters) - India is likely to have normal monsoon in 2012 and the government will give a detailed region-wise forecast on Thursday, Farm Secretary P.K. Basu said on Monday.

The June-September monsoon, vital for agricultural output and economic growth, irrigates around 60 percent of farms in India, the world's second-biggest producer of rice, wheat, sugar and cotton. Agriculture accounts for about 15 percent of India's nearly $2 trillion economy, Asia's third biggest.

Last week a top weather official told Reuters that monsoon is likely to have average rainfall in 2012 despite fears the El Nino weather pattern may emerge in the second half of the season.

According to the state-run India Meteorological Department classification, rains between 96-104 percent of a 50-year average of 89 centimetres is considered normal.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pak Crash Puts Spotlight on Indian Skies

In the wake of Friday's plane crash in Pakistan, aviation experts feel Indian skies may not be safe either as airlines sometimes cut corners on flight safety due to cash crunch

 While the Pakistani civil aviation authorities are still to ascertain what caused the ill-fated 737 flight 213 to crash on its maiden flight killing all 121 passengers on board on Friday last week, aviation experts back home say Indian skies might just be not as safe because cash-crunched airlines sometimes find themselves in a compelling situation to postpone the normal checks on their aircraft and also might not want to spend enough on training the pilots. 
Bhoja Air tragedy is second of Pakistan's worst aviation disasters in recent times after the Air Blue crash of 2010, coincidentally the same airport and same inclement weather conditions in which all passengers died after the aircraft crashed into surrounding hills. 
Whenever an aircraft crash happens, it leaves several unanswered questions on what was the reason for the loss of lives and also what really happened to the machine that is otherwise considered safest (compared to all other transport modes) in transport history to lose wings and crash land. Technical fault, human error of judgment or extreme weather is usually the three top reasons that have made it to the investigation books as prime cause of aircraft crashes. 
But of late, there is a disturbing trend which is becoming a reason for some of the major aircraft crashes, and that is airlines cutting corners on flight safety due to cash crunch, or the pilots not being trained fully to react to sudden-and-snapa-minute reflex situation that present themselves in a cockpit without warning. "What should we do?" the last words of French pilots who were trying to recover a stalled Air France A330 clearly indicate pilots were not trained enough. 
Both Air France and European aircraft manufacturer Airbus are charged with manslaughter, a thing that never even came up during one of the worst aviation disasters back home that of Air India Express in May 2010 that killed 158 passengers due to the human error of an overworked pilot. The low-cost arm of Air India, AI Express, has serious safety issues which pertain to not only training but also lack of equipment in the aircraft needed for logging flying hours and navigational aids but also issues on pilot training as well. 
"Air India Express has some serious safety concerns," a senior official in the office of the Indian civil aviation regulator said. But the regulator has not done enough to follow up on its own findings after it rapped all domestic airlines of flouting safety norms after identifying the problems with each of the carriers. With $20 billion of debt and almost $3 billion of combined projected losses for the financial year FY12, Indian carriers are bound to face issues that might toss up their safety records. 
The two big airlines Air India and Kingfisher (now reduced to 20 aircraft fleet and lowest market share) have both not paid their pilots and engineers salaries for months altogether. But yet their aircraft fly in the air without any serious questions by the regulator. 
Kingfisher engineers went on a flash strike on non-payment of dues on Saturday last week but the aircraft of the airline still flew and neither the regulator nor Kingfisher's promoter Vijay Mallya paid much heed when the airline pilots said making them fly without salaries is a safety issue. 
Kingfisher pilots, who were unpaid for over three months until March had written to DGCA chief EK Bharat Bhushan emphasising the same point. Aviation experts say making unpaid pilots fly can be a serious flight safety issue. 
A case in point is the famous crash of a European carrier where discontented and unpaid pilots, who were made to wait at the airport for three hours before a take-off as their airline was not able to pay fuel charges, did eventually crash the airliner due to fatigue and stress on account of non-payment of salaries. But when an Air India pilot wrote this to the regulator, he was reprimanded and suspended for indiscipline in 2011. 
The director general of civil aviation undertook a safety audit between November 2011 and January 2012, to ensure that India's financially stressed airlines do not cut corners on safety, experts have questioned the exercise saying when will action be taken on the audit findings? "DGCA has taken no action on its own audit. What does it mean? Wasn't the audit correct? Furthermore, apart from the leaks that media got, the regulator has not sent out any official notices or public reports to back up its audit. So what was the audit all about after all?" asks Captain Mohan Ranganathan, an aviation safety expert. The DGCA report had made rather harsh recommendations after carrying out a safety audit on the six scheduled domestic carriers. "A reasonable case exists for withdrawal of their (Kingfisher's) airline operator permit (licence) as their financial stress is likely to impinge on safety," the draft report had said. Similarly, the report had found various safety violations on the part of Air India Express. "A prima facie case exists for restricting their operations in view of safety issues," it had said. The country's most profitable budget carrier IndiGo was also pulled up in the report, which observed," Fast growth induction plan of the fleet in the organisation also needs to be reviewed in view of the serious findings recorded in audit reports." But industry experts say Air India engineers maintain the highest safety standards and it is difficult to get a sign-off from them on any waiver. But at the same time they say Kingfisher cannibalising its aircraft, as it cannot pay for maintenance, is indeed a safety risk. "If the parts that are cannibalised are within a certified lifespan then it is fine, but if those parts are also out of the lifespan it can be a safety issue," said an industry expert not wanting to be identified. But industry experts also say an aircraft maintenance repair and overhauling is a well-oiled mechanism that is controlled by the maintenance, repair and overhauling vendor and also the aircraft manufacturer. "It does not matter if the airline owner wants to undertake checks and repairs. It is difficult to get out of a maintenance facility without proper checks as the MRO vendor might not give a sign off," said an industry expert. However, for airlines that do their own repair and maintenance, it is possible to cut corners. But in Bhoja Air's case, ageing aircraft might have played a part as the benchmark of safe flight for an aircraft is 20 years and industry experts describe Bhoja's 30-year-old aircraft's flight as making a 90-year-old man do a run. Airlines in India have an average fleet age of 4.5-5.5 years, barring Air India that has some really old equipment in its hangars. "Age of aircraft doesn't have as much to do with safety as people usually think," said the chief of flight safety from a private domestic carrier. "If you maintain your machines periodically and see to it that they go under proper checks and repairs, they can fly for several years. Even young aircraft could be accident-prone if not maintained adequately," the executive, who has 49 years of experience in aviation, said. 
A C-check of an aircraft, which is supposed to be performed every 15-21 months and requires a couple of weeks to complete may cost over $2,000 for a 6-7 year old Airbus 320 aircraft. Aircraft spares cost somewhere between $200,000-300,000. Because maintenance is such a costly affair, experts say the expanding Indian airline industry, which is also loss- and debt-ridden, poses some safety concerns. 
Apart from these, Captain Ranganathan points out that there are a few runways like the one in Patna and Jammu, which are not fit for jumbo operations due to inadequate runway length, but it has been overlooked by both airlines and the regulator. Apart from an aircraft-pilot mismatch, Indian pilots also lack inadequate training in weather flying, Ranganathan said. When asked, DGCA's Bharat Bhushan said adequate action was being taken on the safety audit report findings and it has taken measures in the form of cleansing the industry of fake pilots and unfit flying schools. "We are constantly working on the safety of Indian skies, but not even the US regulator can check individually for each of the 12,000 flights undertaken in that country."



Friday, April 20, 2012

MUMBAI:New app helps users find commuters who carpool

Mumbai: A new app will help commuters reduce their carbon footprint and make the daily commute easier. The app, Smart Mumbaikar, that was launched on Friday lets users find travellers who carpool. 
    "It's a simple Facebook app that lets you identify who among your friends shares the same route you take to office, school or college," said entrepreneur Raxit Sheth, developer of the app. 
    When users set up the app, they are asked for details about their daily commute. Users can use a drop-down menu of city landmarks to select the origin and destination of their journey. It also prompts users to select their mode of transport and timing. 
    "We have compiled a list of about 5,000 popular landmarks across Mumbai. These include locations in the western suburbs, Navi Mumbai and the central surburbs," added Sheth. Software professional Parth Lalcheta has helped Sheth develop the app. 
    According to the developers, women travellers can select if they want to travel with at least one female companion or an all-women group. 
    "During research, we realized that security was a key concern, especially for women," said the software developer who is also the creator of MumbaiAuto (an app that calculates autorickshaw and taxi fare once commuters feed the meter reading) and Mobile4Mumbai (an app that allows users to search BEST bus routes). "We know that a large number of people are underutilizing rickshaws, cars and taxis during rush hour. Autos and cabs with single passengers simply add to the city's traffic woes." 
Aid to Easy Commute 

• When users set up the app, they are asked for details about their daily commute 

• Users can use a drop-down menu of city landmarks to select the origin and destination of their journey 

• Women travellers can select if they want to travel with at least one female companion or an all-women group 

• Log on to smartmumbaikar.com

Plane crashes near Islamabad, 127 die

Bhoja Air's Maiden Flight Hit By Lightning?

Islamabad:ABoeing 737 with 127 people on board crashed into a residential area on Friday as it tried to land in Islamabad in a wild thunderstorm. The debris of the plane, which hit several buildings before it crashed, 
was strewn over a large area near Rawalpindi's Chaklala airbase and officials said there was little hope of finding any survivors. 
    The carrier, Bhoja Air, had recently restarted operations after closing down due financial problems a decade back, and Flight B4-213 was its maiden trip from Karachi to Islamabad, Pakistan's Geo TV reported. It is reported to have bought the aircraft from Shaheen Airlines which had discarded it due to its lack of flight-worthiness. 
    The channel quoted unnamed sources as saying the plane had 118 passengers and nine crew members on board. The flight had taken off from Karachi at 5.00pm (5.30pm IST) and was scheduled to land in Islamabad around two hours later. 
    One man said on television that two of the passengers, Sajjad Rizvi and Sania Abbas, were newlyweds flying to Islamabad for their honeymoon. 
RESUMED OPS AFTER 11 YRS 
Bhoja Air flight from Karachi crashes 
while trying to land in bad weather just a few km from Islamabad 
Flight hit several buildings before crashing. One expert feels it may have been hit by lightning 
Airline Woes 
Bhoja Air started domestic ops in Pak in 1993. Suspended work in 2001 due to financial difficulties 
It relaunched domestic ops with just four 737s in March 2012 
Reportedly bought aircraft discarded due to lack of air-worthiness Storm-hit Pak plane crashed in a ball of fire 
Islamabad: Pakistan civil aviation authority sources said the Bhoja Air flight which crashed on Friday was given clearance to land but it lost contact with the control tower 10 minutes before touchdown. 
    One rescuer said he and others saw the wrecked fuselage was ablaze when they arrived at the site with bodies and body parts strewn all over the place. 
    Pouring rain and poor visibility in the mainly rural area, about 30km from Islamabad, hampered rescue efforts. 
    There was no word on fatalities on the ground, though TV channels showed several homes damaged. 
    Saifur Rehman, an official who was part of the police rescue team, said the plane had crashed into Hussain Abad village, about 3km from the Islamabad highway. 
    "Fire erupted after the crash. The wreckage is on fire, the plane is completely destroyed. We have come with teams of firefighters and searchlights and more rescuers are coming," he said. 
    A local resident told Geo News that the plane had had caught fire midair and crashed like a ball of fire. It quoted an expert as saying lightning may have hit the aircraft. A storm was lashing the around the same time as the crash. 
    The TV channel said that the plane fell on top of houses in the village. Authorities blamed weather for the crash and rushed rescue teams to the crash site. 
    This is the second major air disaster in Pakistan since July 2010 when 152 people were killed after an Airblue jet from Karachi crashed into hills overlooking Islamabad just before landing. 
    The deadliest civilian plane crash involving a Pakistani jet came in 1992 when a PIA Airbus A300 crashed into a hillside on its approach to Kathmandu, killAing 167 people. 
BOLT FROM BLUE 
Apr 2, 2012 | 31 people killed when a Russian plane crashes in Siberia Sept 7, 2011 | Jet carrying ice hockey players crashes in Russia, killing 43 Jul 28, 2010 | A Pakistani plane from Karachi crashes near Islamabad airport, killing all 152 on board May 22 | 158 killed as an Air India Express jet overshoots runway in Mangalore Apr 10 | A plane carrying the Polish president crashes near the Russian airport of Smolensk, killing over 90 Jun 1, 2009 | An Air France jet from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashes into the Atlantic with 228 on board Aug 20, 2008 | A Spanair plane veers off the runway in Madrid, killing 154







Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kurla fire singes CR commuters Peak Hour Services May Normalize Today; Main And Harbour Line Travellers Will Be Allowed To Use Western Rly Trains


SIGNALLING CHAOS

 In an unprecedented incident that had nothing to do with monsoon fury or a bandh, two of the city's three suburban railway lifelines — Central Railway's Main and Harbour routes — collapsed on Wednesday. A fire damaged the signalling system at Kurla on Tuesday midnight and paralyzed suburban services on the two routes as well as long-distance services. Services resumed at 3.30am on Wednesday, but trains ran three to four hours late. By late evening, only 70% of the 785 trains on the Main line and 585 on Harbour were back on track, though they continued to move at a snail's pace. 
    Central Railway commuters had a tough time as only 56% of the services were on till 2 pm, as 64 signals along a threekilometre stretch between Kurla and Vidyavihar had gone on the blink. Close to 38.5 lakh commuters were affected. 
    V A Malegonkar, chief public relations, Central Railway, said, "It will take another 48 hours to restore the services to normal. The extent of non-signalled stretch has shrunk on the three lines after repairs. Hence, CR will run all peak suburban trains on Thursday morning and, overall, 85% during the day." To ease commuter woes, CR has allowed them to use long-distance trains and Western Railway services between Mahim and Churchgate on Thursday. Some long-distance trains will halt between Kalyan, Kasara and Karjat. 
    A railway source said, "Prima facie, it does appear that the incident occurred due to a short-circuit between Vidyavihar and Kurla. Power from the 1,500 volts direct current cable may have come in 
contact with a signalling cable that is capable of carrying only 5 volts." The situation worsened as there is no backup system available considering that a signalling panel costs Rs 5 crore. 
    The fire was controlled in time by assistant station manager K S Agarwal, assistant sub-inspector Rajveer Singh and station master S M Moghe. 
    Ruling out the possibility of a sabotage, Malgaonkar said, "A three-member committee, comprising officials from safety, signalling and electrical department, will look into the incident." 
    He said, "Mumbai is equipped with automatic signalling where signals change from red, yellow, double yellow to green without manual intervention." However at a junction and yard, manual intervention is needed to give a command through the signalling panel situated in a route relay interlocking cabin, to change tracks where two streams merge. Due to the damage, manual intervention was not possible. Therefore, precaution has been taken by clamping signal points and permitting loco pilots and motormen to cross the signal at restricted speed. 
Death on Bandra tracks hits WR services too 
Suburban services on the Western Railway were also affected on Wednesday after a man was crushed under a train at Bandra. The train halted for over 40 minutes at the station around 8am. The deceased, Shyam Pawar (45), was a resident of BMC chawl in Colaba. His right leg was found stuck between the axle and the braking system. TNN 
Advisory For Commuters 
CR commuters with valid tickets can travel on WR between Mahim and Churchgate on Thursday Some long-distance trains will halt in the Kalyan to Karjat and Kasara section. People with valid tickets will be allowed to board them to travel to CST No long-distance trains will be rescheduled on Thursday 
Previous Disruptions 
On Monday, CR services were hit when a pantograph got entangled with the overhead wire at Wadala Road A similar incident had happened in Diva in 1995. It took seven days to restore traffic
LIVING NIGHTMARE: Commuters had a harrowing time at Kurla and elsewhere on the CR network as several services were cancelled and others were delayed





Role of ALMs to be defined in new manual

Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) modified guidelines for advancedlocality managements (ALMs) are ready and will be distributed to all 24 administrative ward offices soon. ALMs are collections of housing societies that take up civicissuesin their wards and the new guidelines aim to "strengthen the relationship between the civic body and citizens". Even shopkeepers can be equal stakeholders in forming an ALM. 
    Additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani said each ALM will now get two I-cards and the members will attend ALM meetings, which will be conducted at assistant head supervisor (AHS) and ward office levels. ALMs will also get a registration number. "The registration numbers will help us know if there are any outsiders in the ALMs. We have come to know of disputes where non-ALM members lodge falsecomplaints.Registration willhelp keep a tabon ALMs," said Seema Redkar, ALM officer,BMC. 
    As per the guidelines, the BMC will appoint one beat officer to co-ordinate with the ALMs. The beat officer will function as the nodal officer, visit the locality regularly to liaise with the local committee (LC) and ensure that all issues are resolved and make a note in the local register (LR). The assistantheadsupervisor (AHS)from thesolidwastedepartmentwillconduct monthly meetings with ALMs after screening theLC register. 
    The assistant commissioner will screen the local register once a month with the AHS and conduct bimonthly meeting with ALMs. The BMC will also inform the ALMs of the schedule of any proposed utility work in the respectivelocality. 
New guidelines U nder the new guidelines, ALMs will be allowed to take up issues related to solid waste management, storm water drains, sewage, water, pest control, illegal encroachments, hawkers, posters, utility services and roads in the ALM locality. Issues related to parking woes will remain out of the purview of the ALMs as the traffic department doesn't come under the purview of the BMC. Each ALM will get a registration number and two I-cards. TNN

Hosps get till May to ensure fire safety

Mumbai: In light of a recent inspection which revealed that adequate fire safety norms were not being observed in most major hospitals in the city, the state government said that action would be initiated against hospitals that do not make amends within a month and a half. 
    The civic fire department in December last year conducted an inspection soon after the fire tragedy in AMRI hospital in Kolkata that claimed the lives of 89 people. The department inspected 67 premises, including 41 private hospitals, 17 civic hospitals and nine state hospitals. 
    Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said on Wednesday that the civic department had issued notices to 33 of the 41 private hospitals. "The hospitals have been given time till May-end, when another audit will be conducted on the same premises. Strict action will be taken against the hospitals which do not rectify the wrongs," he said. 
    Opposition leader in the legislative council Vinod Tawde raised the issue of lack of fire safety in civic hospitals during question hour. "The inspection has also found reputable hospitals in the red. This is not acceptable. The state government has allotted plots at subsidized rates to such hospitals, granted high FSI, offered concessions in various taxes, including electricity and customs. It is expected of these hospitals to be fully equipped," he said. 
    Chavan admitted that norms laid down in Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures were not adequately followed in many hospitals. The chief minister also suggested that a similar problem existed in the case of nursing homes. He hinted at audits of and action against nursing homes and schools. 
    During the discussion, Congress member Ashok (Bhai) Jagtap demanded a change in the development control rules to tighten fire safety norms in the case of hospitals.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

City has enough water till mid-July, says BMC

Mumbai: The BMC has announced that there is not much likelihood of water cuts this summer as the lakes have enough water to sustain the city up to July 15. "There is more than adequate fresh water in the lakes and the levels are high, we do not foresee any water shortage or water cuts this summer. We have enough water to easily last the city till July 15," said a civic official. 
    According to the hydraulics department, on April 17, the total stock of water in the six lakes stands at 3,51,070 million litres. The six lakes—Tulsi, Vihar, Tansa, Modak Sagar (or Lower Vaitarna), Upper Vaitarna and Bhatsa—supply Mumbai with about 3,450 mld of water. 
    A civic official said, "We expect the first showers by July first week. If the rains are delayed, we may have to have water cuts but it is very unlikely."

Monday, April 16, 2012

80% city hospitals flout bio-waste disposal norm

After Masina shocker, biomedical waste disposal agency raises giant red flag
Hazardous waste, that's so dangerous it needs to be incinerated at 900 degrees Celsius, is not segregated at source 
Disposal agency official says they hardly receive used syringes and saline bottles, raises fears that these are recycled in the market

A week after Mirror reported how medical waste from a hospital ended up on a Byculla footpath, the nodal agency for collecting hazardous materials has revealed that the problem of improper disposal pervades nearly the entire hospital system. BMC-appointed SMS Envoclean claims 80 per cent of Mumbai's hospitals (public and private) don't segregate their refuse - from syringes, blood-soaked gauze pieces to intravenous drips - seriously compromising efforts to keep infections away from the city's streets and citizens. Waste from clinics and hospitals, where infections and drug-resistant bacteria are becoming increasingly common, poses serious health risks. Unlike regular garbage, it has to be segregated and stored in colour-coded bags depending on its hazardous nature, and incinerated at more than 900 degrees Celsius. (See box on the disposal method mandated by the government.) 
    On April 5, heaps of medical throwaways from Masina Hospital were found scattered on a footpath of a busy street in Byculla. Rag-pickers rummaged through the waste, unmindful of the diseases it may have been carrying. 
    "Eighty per cent of government and private hospitals do not segregate medical waste at source. To raise awareness, we regularly send posters on the right disposal method to all healthcare units," the director, SMS Envoclean, Chetan Bora, told Mirror. "The bio-degradable bags we sell also carry information about how used medical items can be separated. All these efforts have proved to be futile." 
    The city administration has tasked the agency with collecting bio-medical refuse from all hospitals. Its 95 vans collect 12 to 14 tonnes of medical waste every day from 12,000 healthcare units, including nursing homes and dispensaries. Bora said that staff at some hospitals stuffed hazardous waste in regular trash bags, and not colour-coded ones. 
    "It may seem to be a minor lapse, but what happens is that BMC workers mistake the garbage for regular trash and collect it. This way dangerous items enter the city's disposal system," he said. BMC workers are not allowed to collect or dispose medical items. 
    On Masina Hospital's indication that the agency left waste on the footpath, he said: "We have records to prove that our vehicle collected waste from all health units in Byculla," he said. 
    Another pressing concern for health officials is the sale of used medical items. "We hardly get used syringes and saline bottles. We suspect hospitals send these items for recycling without carrying out a proper disinfection process," said an employee of Envoclean. 
    According to BioMedical Waste Rules, 1998, hospitals cannot discard non bio-degradable items in chlorinated bags, which, when burnt, cause harm to environment. "Many hospitals use these types of bags, which also cause damage to our disposal machines. We have raised the issue with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB)," the employee said. 
    When Mirror contacted MPCB sub-regional officer A S Nandavate, he said that the board conducts periodic checks at hospitals and clinics. "Whenever we get a complaint from the agency, we order an inspection," he said. Nandavate contradicted the agency's claim that 80 per cent of hospitals were flouting disposal norms. 
    The medical fraternity, meanwhile, blamed the agency for sidestepping norms. "Envoclean employees are supposed to collect waste from our premises every alternate day, but they come here only once a week. We cannot dispose of the garbage on our own," said Physician Krishnakant Dhebri, who runs a clinic at Girgaum.
    He added that small healthcare units that don't generate high amount of garbage should be allowed to dispose it of in regular trash bags. "Unlike hospitals, such clinics do not generate hazardous waste," he said. 
    Another doctor, who didn't want to be named, said that the agency demanded steep charges for collecting medical refuse from hospitals and clinics. Bora, however, said that rates were reasonable. "They are calculated on the basis of the number of beds in a hospital. We offer discounted rates to municipal and government hospitals," he said. 
BIO-MED WASTE DISPOSAL 
As per the Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998, it is mandatory for hospitals in the city to dispose bio-medical waste through a prescribed method. They could either hand over the refuse to collection agents, authorised by the civic body, or treat it on their own. 
    However, since the latter requires health facilities to install expensive machinery, most of them opt for the common treatment and disposal facility – SMS Envocare in Mumbai. 
SEGREGATION 
The BMW rules require hospitals to segregate the hazardous waste and put it into different colour-coded bags – yellow, red and blue/white – before handing it over to Envocare staffers for disposal. 
THE DISPOSAL 
YELLOW BAGS They contain infectious bandages, gauzes, cotton or any other thing that comes in contact with body fluids, human body parts, blood bags and blood sample tubes TREATMENT They are reduced to ash in an incinerator at 1200 degrees Celsius. The toxic fumes generated through the process are burnt at 1500 degrees Celsius. RED Plastic wastes such injection syringes, ampules, plastic intravenous bottles, catheters, plastic and rubber hand gloves TREATMENT: Autoclaving – disinfecting with the help of steam and chemical treatment. The items are then crushed and sent to authorised reprocessor or plastic manufacturers BLUE/WHITE (puncture-proof bags): All types of glass bottles, scalpels, metal articles TREATMENT: After autoclaving, the items are buried in areas known as sharp pits


Hazardous waste lying on a footpath in Byculla and (right) the treatment plant at Deonar where all medical waste is disinfected, buried or incinerated




Sunday, April 15, 2012

Qatar: Richest nation is global obesity capital

Dubai: With over half of its population overweight, the world's wealthiest country Qatar is the obesity capital of the world. 
    The energy-rich Gulf country, was ranked by Forbes this year as the world's wealthiest country. However, it has seen an increase in obesity related health problems, the UK's Daily Mail said. 
    Half of all adults in the state are classed as obese and 17% are suffering from diabetes, making it the most overweight country in the world. 
    Low levels of exercise and a growing popularity of fast food outlets has led to concern among local health activists. "It's a very, very serious problem facing future of Qatar," Sharoud Al-Jundi Matthis, programme manager at Qatar Diabetes Association, said. PTI

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mild Tremors Jolt Citizens No Loss Of Life Or Property Recorded

Mumbai: Citizens felt mild tremors for a few seconds in the city on Saturday morning. 

    According to Met department officials, the tremors were a shock effect of the earthquakes in Gujarat and Maharashtra. 
    Officials recorded a tremor measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale at 10.58am on Saturday in Satara, which is 213 km from Mumbai. Around 25 

houses in the Konkan region were damaged. An aftershock was felt at 11.47am in Kolhapur, sending slight tremors in Mumbai again. 
    Those residing in Ballard Pier, Byculla, Dadar, Kurla, Chembur, Vashi, Santa Cruz and interior areas of Andheri are said to have experienced aftershocks. "I was reading a newspaper at home when I felt my chair shake. My father sitting opposite me also felt the same. I realized that we had felt a tremor," said Byculla resident Khushi Sharma. 

    India Meteorological Department director (Mumbai) Bishwombhar Singh said, "Two tremors were recorded in western India on Saturday. 
The first one, measuring 4 on the Richter scale, occurred at Bhuj in Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, at 8.53am. The one in Maharashtra occurred at 10.58am and its epicentre was Satara. There is no imminent threat or danger to Mumbai". 
    No loss of life or property was reported in the city. 

MUMBAI'S RISK FACTORS Over 16,000 dilapidated buildings 
The city's population density of 20,038 persons per sq km in the island city and 20,925 in the suburbs poses a challenge 
Implementation of quake-resistant building codes questionable, particularly in older buildings 

QUAKE-PROOF STRUCTURES 
They aim to be monoliths or single entities where floors, walls and roofs are bound through steel liner plates that provide a cross-bracing of sorts. This helps the building put up a united front to a quake 
We are safe, can be safer: Experts 
Mumbai: Saturday's tremors put the spotlight on the city's vulnerability to such disasters. A stricter vigil of earthquake-resistant building codes is needed, said experts, adding that Mumbai's cessed structures, slum sprawl and high population density pose enormous challenges in the face of an earthquake. 
    Said geologist V Subramanyan, "The BMC should conduct a survey to see how many of Mumbai's buildings are seismically-safe and strengthen those found unsafe through retrofitting." 
    He also underlined the need for an "upper limit to be placed on high-rises" given that the city falls in the moderate-risk seismic zone. 

    Pointing out that there are 16,000 dilapidated structures identified by theBMC and over 50% of the population lives in slums, experts said that there is a huge gap in the city's earthquake-resistant housing stock. 
    "The city's high population and structural density pose a challenge to disaster management but we have prepared a standard operating procedure to deal with earthquake-induced building collapses and landslides," said M Narvekar, head of the BMC's disaster cell. 
    Experts said newer structures have built-in seismic safeguards which are required to be followed by redevelopment projects as well. "New buildings are on a par with global standards and 
are designed to handle seismic load," said architect Hafeez Contractor. 
    Subhash Patil of the Institution of Engineers said the 1997 Latur earthquake had served as a wake-up call to engineers and buildings in Mumbai are safe enough to withstand the earthquake effect. 
    Prof Deepankar Chaudhary of IIT-B sounds a word of caution. "We are not that well prepared. The norm is to follow the Indian standard code to build safe structures but the codes which relate to designing foundation of buildings, retaining walls, etc, haven't been updated since 1984. Dynamic soil properties within cities, another major factor in determining safety, are not spelt out in building codes."



MHA puts cops on duty to net young cyber criminals


Mumbai: The Union home ministry has issued an unusual advisory to cops across the country—it has listed various measures to reduce growing instances of cyber crime among minors. Among them is a suggestion that young policemen visit cyber cafes under cover "pretending to be minors" to monitor children's activities. 

    According to the advisory, "if any cyber cafe owner allows minors to surf porn sites or carry out other crimes, he could be arrested". It has mentioned the kinds of cyber crimes children have been found to indulge in, such as stalking, harassment, defamation, character assassination and sending threat emails, and suggested what sections of the Information Technology Act can be invoked in the cases. 
    The advisory, which the city police received recently, states that in today's technology-savvy era, children are prone to using the computer, hence the need to concentrate on how the police can make the use of internet and electronic gadgets safer for them. 
    Observing that children are also exposed to sexually explicit material, the MHA has said it must be controlled. "For this, awareness programmes can be conducted at schools and colleges. Moreover, the police cell handling the juvenile section could conduct meetings with parents and suggest what can be done to save children from indulging in cyber crimes," the advisory says. 
Cop site may list safety tips for young cyber users Home Ministry To Police: Minors Involved In Identity Theft, Hacking 
    The Union home ministry recently issued an advisory for police across the country to curb growing instances of cyber crime amongst minors. 
    The advisory also included suggestions such as listing out safety measures or tips on internet usage on the state police's web site, or creating a children's corner where internet tips could be explained to children in a simple and easy-to-understand language. Assistance on the subject could be sought from Nasscom, the National Technical Research Organization (NTRO) as well as the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), it stated. 
    Police sources said these days, even school-going children have internet facility on their mobile phones. "Parents must therefore keep monitoring their phones. It could help them find out whether their child is misusing the internet," said an officer. 
    There have been cases where school-going children were found to have made derogatory remarks about their classmates on socialnetworking web sites. 
    Some are more serious. A young boy, for instance, had sent out a threat email following the Delhi High Court bomb blast. The email's origin was traced and the boy was arrested. Then, around half a dozen minors were caught by Mumbai's cyber police for sending terror or threat emails to television channels claiming to be members of terror outfits, simply as attention-seeking stunts. A 16-year-old was convicted in 
one such case in Mumbai. 
    "Some minors have been found involved in identity theft, hacking of emails or 
accounts on social networking web sites, and there is unwanted exposure of sexually explicit material. There is a need to conduct special programmes and skill development for those manning child lines," the advisory stated. 
VIRTUAL POLICING 
Home ministry advisory says: 
FOR POLICEMEN 
Pose as minors and visit cyber caf├ęs Conduct meetings with parents; interact with them and generate awareness about children's internet habits Those manning child lines should be aware about internet use and misuse 
FOR PARENTS 
Monitor children's internet browsing history regularly Also, monitor content of web sites children visit as well as their e-activities Ensure that children aren't using any fake email account 

PSYCHIATRISTS TO PARENTS 
Do not deal too strictly with children Do not expect them to behave in a mature fashion; they are kids, after all Do not pass value judgements if found guilty Schools should create a friendly and democratic environment for kids Take what kids say with a pinch of salt Educate them about cyber space and its dangers Take the child to a counsellor if found misusing internet despite being told of its dangers 
Sections of the IT Act and the Indian Penal Code that can be invoked in case of cyber crimes: 
CYBER STALKING 
When a victim is repeatedly and persistently followed and pursued online or with electronic gadgets. 
    Sections 66A, 66C, 66E of the IT Act for hacking could be invoked, along with Section 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended 

    to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code 
CYBER BULLYING 
Acts of harassment, embarrassment, and taunts, insults or threatening behaviour towards a victim by the use of internet 
    Sections for cyber stalking could be invoked for cyber 
bullying as well 
CHILD PORNOGRAPHY 
This is a serious offence Sections 67, 57A and 67B of the IT Act, and sections 292 and 293 (for sale etc of obscene books or material) of the IPC could be invoked 
HACKING OF EMAILS 
Section 66 of the IT Act could be invoked



Sleepless city faces obesity, diabetes risk

Mumbai: If you sleep less than five hours a day, chances are you will put on five kilos within a year and develop diabetes sooner than later. 

    This unhealthy equation was spelt out in a study done by Harvard University's Brigham and Women's Hospital last week. The study also said that people getting less than five hours of sleep 
or those who worked on night shifts are likely to get diabetes faster than people with day jobs. 
    "People are ideally supposed to sleep for eight hours a day, work for another eight hours and reserve the remaining eight hours for recreation," said endocrinologist Shashank Joshi. But Mumbai's 24x7 grind blurs this rhythm. "We sleep 
less daily and plan to catch up with it over the weekend," said Dr Joshi, who consults at Lilavati Hospital in Bandra and is researching the link between sleep and diabetes in Mumbai. 
Wake-Up Call 

•Less than 5 hours or over 10 hrs of sleep in a 24-hour cycle bad for health 

• Poor sleep worsens heart problems, promotes weight gain, increases diabetes risk 

• Also affects emotional balance, immunity, facial recognition abilities 

• Sleeplessness makes people prone to focus on negative impact words 

• Excessive exposure to technology, long hours before TV, video games, cellphones and internet may lead to sleep deprivation 
Sleep debt found most among those 
UNDER 40 
Work And Stress Causing Sleep Deprivation. This, In Turn, Gives Rise To Health Problems 
    Hectic life leading to lack of sleep has been impacting people of Mumbai. Working weekends further disrupt this cycle. "Mumbaikars live with sleep debt," said Dr Shashank Joshi. 
    One of Dr Joshi's research papers underlines the converse of the Harvard study—how sleep is distorted among patients with diabetes. "A student of mine looking at the prevalent sleep habits in 260 patients with diabetes found that almost 24% of them slept less than five hours," said Dr Joshi. 
    The Harvard study reinforces increasing medical research that shows disturbed sleep patterns could lead to diabetes. In Mumbai, the under-40 brigade—comprising corporate climbers and entrepreneurs—suffers the most from poor sleep patterns. At sleep expert Dr Preeti Devnani's clinic in Jaslok Hospital the bulk of the patients are in the under-40 group. "Maybe it is their work or stress, but people below 40 years of age suffer from chronic sleep debt and are unable to make up for it. Health problems pre
dictably follow," she said. E n d o c r i n o l o g i s t Archana Juneja from Kokilaben Ambani Hospital in Andheri calls it the bane of the generation that sleeps next to its phone. "They are not only stressed, but also have disturbed sleep and hormone cycles that lead to central o b e s i t y. Metabolic syndrome (with elevated lipids) and diabetes follow," she explained. 
    The Harvard study, which was published in the new Science Translational Medicine journal, looked at 21 healthy participants for six weeks. The researchers controlled how many hours of sleep participants got as well as when they slept and other factors such as activities and diet. Participants started with getting optimal sleep (approximately 10 hours per night). This was followed by three weeks of 5.6 hours of sleep per 24-hour period and with sleep occurring at all times of day and night, thereby simulating the schedule of rotating shift workers. The researchers saw that glucose concentrations in the blood increased after meals because of poor insulin secretion by the pancreas. 
    The body's hormones 

    surge in the wee hours of the morning. "It surges by 4am or so and subsides by evening. People who sleep later than, say, 2am or 3am miss this hormone surge in the body," said Dr Juneja. 
    Not surprisingly then, a map of sleep deprivation versus sleep duration would show a bell curve graph. "Anything less than four hours or more than 10 hours in a 24-hour cycle is deleterious to health," said Dr Devnani. 
    So, sleep deprivation would worsen symptoms for people with heart disease, decrease the production of hormone leptin (which suppresses appetite) and increase the production of hormone ghrelin (which stimulates appetite). "This imbalance in the leptinghrelin cycle causes obesity," Dr Devnani said. Worse, sleep deprivation among people trying to lose weight only results in the body's good fat getting lost.




Thursday, April 12, 2012

2 more H1N1 cases take tally to 14

Mumbai: Two more persons on Thursday tested positive for swine flu in Mumbai, taking the toll of positive cases to 14 since March this year. 
    "A 26-year-old woman from Andheri and a 37-yearold man from Sewri were diagnosed with swine flu. They are now receiving treatment at private hospitals," said Dr Mangala Gomare, epidemiologist, BMC. TNN

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

QUAKE-HIT ACEH RUSHES FOR HILLS

Banda Aceh: Thousands of panicstricken people packed the streets of Banda Aceh as they streamed out of the city in cars and motorcycles seeking higher ground moments after a massive earthquake measuring 8.6 struck about 434 km southwest of the city on Wednesday. 
    A series of aftershocks, one of them measuring an equally serious 8.2, rattled people further as they packed the streets hoping to find a way out of the city to the hills. There were no immediate reports of casualties in Aceh. Immediately after the temblor struck, a high tsunami alert was issued along the Indian Ocean rim and fears of a wall of waves coming down on the coastal areas looked real. People fled buildings. Terrified residents screamed "God is great" as they jumped into cars and motorcycles, clogging streets as they fled.Initial estimates had put the magnitude of the quake at 8.9, but later this was scaled down to 8.6. 
    Quake officials said they feared a tsunami had been generated and that was racing for the Aceh coast. For close to two hours, the city was on the edge. The ground had shaken for four minutes and one resident recalled. "This isn't the strongest earthquake I have felt, but it simply refused to end." Thousands feared a repeat of the deadly 2004 disaster a similar quake that had devastated the province and killed upwards of 200,000 people. 
    As tsunami fears compounded the quake shock, electricity was cut in Aceh and traffic jams kept getting worse. "Sirens blared and Koran recitals began in mosques everywhere," Reuters reported. There were reports of people jumping from windows in a desperate attempt to escape. Patients poured out on to the streets with drips still attached to their arms. 
    But when the fearsome wall of water failed to hit Aceh for close to two hours panic seemed to be subsiding. Later, an expert described the quake at Aceh as a strike-slip quake, not a thrust quake. "In a slip quake, the earth moves horizontally and doesn't displace large volumes of water," he said explaining why a tsunami hadn't struck. But, two hours later, a massive aftershock - with a similarly huge magnitude of 8.2 - struck only 110 miles further out to sea, 
unleashing fresh fears. A new tsunami alert was hoisted. 
    Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono moved to calm nerves, saying that there appeared to be no serious casualties and local residents had been taken to safety. He added that "as of this time there is no threat of tsunami" - despite an international warning being issued. "The situation is under control so far. It is a very different situation from 2004 when Aceh was faced with a deadly tsunami," he said reassuringly. AGENCIES


RATTLED: Women cry on a street in Banda Aceh after a strong earthquake struck off Indonesia; (right) Chaos in a street as people rush to leave the city for higher ground after the tsunami alert

Indonesia trembles, India does the drill

New Delhi: The earthquake off the western coast of Indonesia generated a serious tsunami scare on India's east coasts for over four hours. But, 
    turned out to be an opportunity for a 'real-time' drill for the disaster response and warning system. 
    The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) quickly provided details of the quake and posted a series of alerts. It issued the more serious "warning" notifications for some locations in Andaman and Nicobar, while most mainland coastal areas were placed on alert". INCOIS posted the earthquake as "massive". 
    Alerts issued by the ministry of earth sciences and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) soon after the tremor along northern Sumatra were later withdrawn, with government ruling out the likelihood of a tsunami. Initial reports had suggested a strong possibility of the earthquake 33 km beneath the sea triggering a tsunami. 
    As the tsunami failed to appear, the alerts were downtional Disaster Response Force NDRF), army, IAF, Coast Guard and civil authorities in coastal states on their toes and tested the disaster response systems put in place after the devastation caused by the tsunami in 2004. 
    "It gave us a real drill kind of situation where we put our system in place and took all precautions as per standard operating procedures," said NDMA vice-chairman M Shashidhar Reddy. 
    Even as states put out tsunami warnings across eastern coast, the government placed six battalions of the to the Andamans in case of emergency and positioned another six teams in Chennai and 15 in Guntur. 
    "These teams have not been activated as the threat of a tsunami has dissipated," said K M Singh, a member of NDMA. The quick response was a good sign that the early responses devised to alert Indian Ocean nations are working, unlike in 2004. 
    Reddy told TOI that although the tsunami possibility is virtually ruled out; concerned authorities have not lowered their guard yet. 
    After the first quake, experts expected two-metre high waves to hit India, but that didn't happen and an insignificant rise was recorded along the islands. The initial projections issued by the Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC) showed the tidal waves triggered by the quake hitting parts of Nicobar, Komatra and Katchal minutes after it struck the region at 2:08 pm IST. 
    Union home secretary R K Singh, who reviewed the situation in the aftermath of the quake, said there was no cause for panic and the government was ready to deal with any Visiting Cameron assures help 
    The earthquakes off the Indonesian coast occurred as British PM David Cameron visited the country's capital, Jakarta, on Wednesday. The British PM told Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono: "Our thoughts should be with those who are affected. Britain of course stands ready to help if help is required. We will stand with you and your government and your people at this time of worry." AGENCIES

When temblor strikes, drop, cover & hold on

 What should you do if an earthquake happens? Apart from not panicking, the prescription is pretty simple: Drop, cover and hold on. That means, drop down and curl up, cover yourself by crawling under a sturdy table or a corner and hold on to something stable. 
    Experience from across the world, and reams of expert studies have shown that more than a third of casualties during earthquakes take place by falling and fly objects inside homes or workplaces, says Arun Sahdeo, a consultant at the government run National Institute of Disaster Management, New Delhi. But what about running out of the building, which is the popular wisdom? Again, most experts globally recommend 
that unless you are on the ground or lower floors, it is not advisable to run out of the building. By the time you get out it will be too late. 
    The National Disaster Management Agency's dos and don'ts recommend staying inside and taking cover. Similar recommendations are used the world over including by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the US and the Japan Meteorological Agency. 
    "In congested cities like we have in India, going out might mean exposing yourself to very dangerous falling objects like electricity poles and lines, hoardings, building parts etc. One should go out only to open spaces," stresses Sahdeo. 
    It is necessary to drop down immediately because otherwise you will get knocked down by the shaking. And then you may not be in a position to protect your head and face. If in bed, staying put and covering your head with a pillow is the best course rather than running about. Taking cover is recommended because objects like fans, televisions, other fixtures, wall hanging objects may fall down. It is matter of seconds, so time should not be wasted, says Sahdeo echoing international recommendations. 
    If you happen to be travelling in an automobile try to stop safely. Again stay put, unless you are in totally open 
    space. - bile will protect you more from falling objects. The advise of running out into the open becomes relevant for rural areas where houses will mostly be low-rise and open spaces nearby. In the case of tsunamis, usually there will be an early warning. The recommended plan of action is to heed the warning and immediately move inland or towards a higher place. Never make the mistake of thinking that you can start running once you see the killer wave – many have died making this mistake. 
DOS AND DON'TS EARTHQUAKES 
Don't run out unless you are on the lower floors If you run out, stay away from buildings, walls, electric poles If inside, crouch under a sturdy table or in a corner or door If in an automobile, stop slowly, away from trees and buildings, remain inside 
TSUNAMI 
Listen to early warnings Immediately move inland or to higher ground Don't wait to see the tsunami

FDA begins destroying Red Bull cans

Mumbai: A week after Red Bull energy drink cans worth Rs 7.45 crore were seized, the Maharashtra food and drug administration (FDA) on Wednesday discreetly launched the biggest-ever exercise to destroy 3.73 lakh cans of the same brand, worth Rs 2.98 crore, seized in 2009. 
    "On October 15, 2009, we seized 3.73 lakh Red Bull cans after it was confirmed that the drink contained more than the permitted amount of caffeine. After a prolonged battle, we got an order in our favour. We have informed the firm and began destroying the cans. We expect to complete the exercise in three days," a senior FDA official told TOI on Wednesday. 
    On the day when the cans were seized, 11 samples were sent to FDA's Pune laboratory to ascertain the quantity of caffeine, said the official. "We found that the drink contained well over 250 to 300 ppm caffeine against the permissible level of 145 ppm. Then we seized Red Bull's entire stock of 3.73 lakh cans from different parts of the state," he added. 
    According to provisions of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, the FDA had informed the company that since there was blatant violation of rules, it will destroy the entire seized stock. Against the FDA order, the firm had approached a Bhiwandi court, which had prohibited FDA from proceeding with its proposed action. Subsequently, the FDA moved the Thane sessions court against the Bhiwandi court order. The Thane sessions court on February 2, 2012, upheld the FDA's decision and accordingly, the process of destroying the cans was initiated on Wednesday. "It's a lengthy procedure. The cans will be destroyed mechanically, while the carbonated drink will be treated in an effluent treatment plant. The entire exercise will be undertaken under the supervision of FDA officials," he said. 
    Red Bull has said that since the product is sold in 164 countries, the organization is fully complying with the prescribed regulations in each country. "A 250 ml can of Red Bull contains the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. On several occasions, Indian authorities have confirmed that the drink is in keeping with Indian laws and regulations and the company was surprised over the Maharashtra FDA's approach," a company official observed.
    Meanwhile, Red Bull said the stock destruction, at present underway at a private facility under the FDA supervision, has nothing to do with the current legal proceedings. It is being voluntarily carried out by Red Bull India as the stock in question has expired. The reason behind the destruction is hygiene and is being done with the knowledge of the courts and with no prejudice to any legal matter. We have specific orders to this effect.


Energy drink cans at a facility in Deonar

Asia relives the horror of 2004

Banda Aceh (Indonesia):Two massive earthquakes triggered back-to-back tsunami warnings for Indonesia and its southeast Asian neighbours on Wednesday, re-awakening painful memories of the catastrophic 2004 tsunami and sending panicked residents fleeing to high ground in cars and on motorcycles. 
    No deadly waves followed, and a tsunami watch for much of the Indian Ocean was lifted after a few hours. 
    Women and children cried in Aceh, where memories are still raw of the 2004 disaster that killed 170,000 people in the province. Others screamed "God is great" as they poured from their homes or searched frantically for their family members. 
    Patients were wheeled out of hospitals, some still lying in their beds with drips attached to their arms. At least one hotel guest was injured when he jumped out of his window. 
    The US Geological Survey said the epicentre of the first 8.6-magnitude quake was a shallow 22km below the Indian Ocean bed, 435 km from Aceh's provincial capital. 
    An alert followed from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, advising countries along the rim of the Indian Ocean that a seismically charged wave could head their way. AGENCIES Evacuations started soon after tsunami scare 
Banda Aceh (Indonesia): 
Two deadly tsunamis in the last decade — the most recent off Japan just one year ago — have left the world much better prepared. Sirens sounded along coastlines and warnings spread like wildfire by mobile phone text messaging. Though often chaotic, evacuations began immediately with streets clogged with traffic, especially in Aceh. 
    People near the coast in six Thai provinces were ordered to move to higher ground. Authorities shut down the international airport in the Thai beach resort province of Phuket. The only wave to hit, though, was less than 30 inches high, rolling to Indonesia's emptied coastline. Just as the region was sighing relief, an 8.2-magnitude aftershock followed. 
    "We just issued another tsunami warning," Prih Harjadi, from Indonesia's geophysics agency, told TVOne in a live interview. He told his countrymen to stay clear of western coasts. 
    Residents in Aceh could hardly believe it. "What did we do to deserve this?" cried Aisyah Husaini, 47, who lost both her parents and a son in the 2004 tsunami. "What sins have we committed?" 
    Again, though, the threat quickly passed. 
    The tremors, however, were felt in neighbouring Malaysia, where high-rise buildings shook, Thailand and Bangladesh, apart from India. Those countries, as well as Sri Lanka and the Maldives evacuated buildings and beaches and readied relief efforts in case of disaster. 
    The World Meteorological Organization said communication systems set up after the 2004 tsunami appeared to have worked well. "Our records indicate that all the national meteorological services in the countries at risk by this tsunami have received the warnings in under five minutes," said Maryam Golnaraghi, the head of WMO's disaster risk reduction program. 
    The alert was sent out by US National Weather Service, which operates a tsunami warning station in Hawaii, she said. AGENCIES




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