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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

113 killed in Pacific earthquake, tsunami

Apia: Towering tsunamis churned up by a huge earthquake slammed into the Samoan islands, killing at least 113 people as they wiped out entire villages and flattened tourist resorts. 
    Monster waves that witnesses and officials said measured between three and 7.5 metres high pounded the remote Pacific islands of Samoa and Western Samoa after an 8.0-magnitude undersea quake struck in the early morning. 

    While the quake toppled buildings and sent thousands fleeing to high ground as the tsunami approached, many others were hit by the walls of water that swept people and cars out to sea and obliterated coastal settlements. 
US President Barack Obama called the incident in the outlying US territory of American Samoa a "major disaster" and vowed "aggressive" action to help survivors. "I am closely monitoring these tragic events, and have declared a major disaster for American Samoa, which will provide the tools necessary for a full, swift and aggressive response," he said. Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said he was "shocked beyond belief." "So much has gone. So many people are gone," he told the Australian news agency AAP. 
The tsunamis swept across the Pacific, battering Samoa where hospital workers said it killed at least 84 people, American Samoa where it felled 22, and Tonga, where at least seven people died. As Australia, New Zealand and the US led with immediate pledges of assistance, scores more people were missing feared dead in the chaos and despair that the twin disaster left in its wake. 
Up to 70 villages stood in the way of the waves in the worsthit area and each housed from 300-800 people. "We are getting reports of missing people in areas where damage is extensive on the south and southeast coasts," local journalist Jona Tuiletufuga said. "Entire villages have been wiped out." AFP

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Make your battery last forever & ever

To keep your cell, laptop and MP3 player from dying on you, stick to these easy rules

 Let's face it. We are surrounded by energy monsters. On an average, most urbanites carry at least two power-hungry gadgets on them. Phones, laptops, iPods, digital cameras all want more power to run on. And as Murphy would have it, all of these love to run out on us just when we need them the most. Laptops that give up when you are about to send an important email, digicams that die when you spot something you wanted to capture. It happens to the best of us. While there might be no way of feeding these power-hungry devices enough, there are a few tricks that will definitely help you squeeze more juice out of your gadget's battery. Here are a few that could help. 

Keep it cool 
Remember those fancy cases you get for devices? Well, innocent as they might look, they are number one enemies of your devices. It's bad enough having to battle the heat outside and the extra warmth of your pocket or purse. But add to that a leather case and your devices stand no chance. Heat kills battery mainly because batteries generate power due to a chemical reaction within. And extreme temperatures make battery work extra hard to generate the same amount of power, chewing off large bits of battery life. So, remember — cooler your devices, the longer your battery will last. 
Turn off features you aren't using 
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, backlights — all 
these are great features for your devices, but they are also massive battery hogs. Firstly, simply switch off features like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi that aren't currently in use. This will save your device a precious amount of power. Secondly, most of your devices such as phones, iPods that have screens will have a light to power them. This light burdens your battery too, so it's a good idea to either disable or turn down the intensity of the light. This should give you more power to run your device longer. Apart from reducing the screen intensity for laptops, also try and remove devices you aren't using, especially things such as a USB flash drive or a DVD. 
    Same goes for your digicam. Simply turn off the LCD and look through the viewfinder of your camera. This will give you a few more photos in the same battery. Another idea, especially when you hear your camera beep low battery and you really need to keep it going, is to turn off the flash. These bulbs really put a strain on your camera's battery and switching them as often as you can will easily give you dozens of extra photos. 
Make fewer trips to the hard disk 
MP3 players, especially iPods that come with hard disks (not the Nano or Shuffle), drain battery if you make visits to the hard drive often. You can avoid this by not using the rewind/ 
forward or previous/ next buttons often. Because each time you do this, the device uses extra power to find and open the song from the hard drive. Same goes for the shuffle mode which makes extra trips to the hard drive to shuffle your list. So using set playlists is a good idea if your device is running out of battery. Laptops will also run longer if you try and cut back on the concurrently running programs that access the hard drive. All media players or desktop gadgets can be shut down if you want to conserve battery. 
Avoid turning devices on-off constantly 
Another common mistake that can cost you a chunk of your battery life is restarting your devices often. This is basically because devices consume the most power when they are starting up. So make sure you only switch off when you know you have exhausted all other options. Your phone, for example, will have an 'airplane' mode. Use that instead of turning the phone off and turning it back on when you need contact details or notes. This will save you a good amount of battery life because it won't try to catch cell signal and since you won't get any calls it will be similar to switching the phone off. 
    For laptops, use the 'hibernate' mode instead of shutting it down, especially if you intend to use it soon enough. Same goes for your camera, try not to keep switching off your camera between snaps. Instead, just turn off the LCD screen on the back, and leave the camera on if you know you are going to be taking pictures.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Raining revolution: Collect rain water, help the planet


image name 
(Photo: RainXchange)

EarthTalk is a Q&A column from E / The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: How can I make good use of the rainwater that runs down my roof and into my gutters?-- Brian Smith, Nashua, NH

For most of us, the rain that falls on our roof runs off into the ground or the sewer system. But if you're motivated to save a little water and re-distribute it on your lawns or plants -- or even use it for laundry, dishes or other interior needs -- collecting rainwater from your gutters' downspouts is a no-brainer.

If it's allowed in your state, that is. Utah and parts of Washington State have antiquated but nonetheless tough laws banning anyone but owners of water rights from collecting rainwater flowing off privately owned rooftops. Such laws are rarely enforced, however, and one in Colorado was recently overturned.

According to John C. Davis, writing in E / The Environmental Magazine, just about any homeowner can collect rainwater, given that the roof and gutters do most of the work. And since an inch of rain falling on a 2,000-square-foot roof produces some 1,200 gallons of runoff, one can harvest enough to supply all the water needs of a family of four for about two weeks. Of course, most of us would only use rainwater to irrigate our lawn or garden, and there should be plenty to go around for doing that in all but the most drought stricken areas.

Plants and grass actually do better when fed rainwater instead of tap water, which is usually treated with softeners that actually inhibit plant growth. And, reports Davis, the lack of minerals in rainwater actually makes it more effective than tap water for shampooing or doing dishes. Using rainwater for plumbing uses can also extend the life of pipes and water heaters, since the salts added to tap water facilitate corrosion. Homeowners should set up a water purification system if they do plan to use rainwater for interior needs.

Beyond the benefits to individual homeowners, rainwater harvesting can also be good for the local community, as it reduces the erosion, flooding and pollution runoff associated with heavy rainfall, and lessens reliance on public water supplies, alleviating some of the burden on utilities. Given these benefits, some states, including even drought-prone Texas, subsidize residential rainwater collection systems.

Many varieties of rain barrel systems, starting at just $100, are available for home installation. A typical set-up is simply a rain barrel positioned under a gutter's downspout. "The barrel is typically fitted with a spigot at its base to fill a watering can or attach a soaker hose (which bleeds out water all along its length, providing effortless drip irrigation), and a filter or screen at its top to prevent a buildup of leaves and other debris," writes Davis. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a single 100-gallon rain barrel can save up to 1,300 gallons of utility-provided water during the high demand summer months.

Handy homeowners can make their own water harvesting systems (even from discarded barrels), but buying one pre-made is easier. Most nurseries and garden centers offer a range of choices (as well as advice), but websites such as AquabarrelClean Air Gardening and Rainxchange make it easy to order a system online.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mosquito-borne African virus a threat to West

Washington: The US and Europe face a new health threat from a mosquito-borne disease far more unpleasant than the West Nile virus that swept into North America a decade ago, a US expert said. 
    Chikungunya virus has spread beyond Africa since 2005, causing outbreaks and scores of fatalities in India and the French island of Reunion. It also has been detected in Italy, where it has begun to spread locally, as well as France. 
    "We're very worried," Dr James Diaz of the Louisiana UniversityHealth Sciences Center told a meeting on airlines, airports and disease transmission sponsored by the independent US National Research Council. 
    "Unlike West Nile virus, where nine out of 10 people are going to be totally asymptomatic, or may have a mild headache or a stiff neck, if you get Chikungunya you're going to be sick," he said. 
    "The disease can be fatal. It's a serious disease," Diaz added. "There is no vaccine." REUTERS

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Flush away your water woes: BMC

 Mumbai: It's an innovative solution to the water crisis that's threatening to cripple Mumbai. What's more, it isn't only in the realm of theory, a few hundred Mumbaikars have already started acting on it. 

    Here's the theory part: If the five million-odd denizens of this city who live in residential complexes transfer half their flush tank water into plastic bags or bottles and put these into the tanks, 
hydraulic experts in the city confirm that the city will jointly end up saving more than half the water that Tansa supplies to the city daily, and more than Tulsi and Vihar's per day supply put together. Additionally, almost two days of the city's entire water supply will be saved if this practice is continued for a month. 
    The BMC supplies water to a slum population of approximately seven million. The remaining water goes to a population of over five million people living in residential complexes, where the average flush capacity is between 7 and 10 litres. Now, assuming a person uses the loo eight times a day, s/he flushes a mini
mum of 56 to 80 litres in 24 hours. Experts, who were civic hydraulic engineers in the past, say that reducing this usage by half in the manner mentioned can save a great deal of water: 30-40 litres of water per household per day, and 150-200 million litres for the city. At the end of the month, the savings amount to 6,000 mld, which is almost two days of Mumbai's water supply. 
    If certain BMC engineers are to be believed, hundreds of families in the western suburbs are already practising the halfflush tank method. Sure, they're doing it to tide over their own water crisis, but the city benefits by default. Aniruddha Ghanekar's family and their neighbours in Bandra East's Gandhinagar have put plastic bags containing over four litres of water into their 10-litre flush tank. This, Aniruddha, a civil engineer by profession, says helps them "save half the quantity of water from the overhead tank they use for flushing for over seven times a day''. 
    A few apartments in Chembur, Goregaon and Andheri, where Ghanekar's friends and relatives live, have also followed suit. 
    An increasing number of Mumbaikars have been resorting to this method ever since the water cut came into force. The BMC's hydraulic engineers, while lauding the idea which has been propagated by environmental NGOs for years, refuse to officially ask people to adopt it. Says Pramod Guhe, one of these engineers, "It is good that people are at least toying with several options to save water. Ideally, people should replace flush tanks with a capacity of 7-10 litres with those of 3-5 litres, which is adequate.''

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another cave-in drains Pedder Rd patience

Mumbai: A part of the road opposite singer Lata Mangeshkar's building Prabhu Kunj on Pedder Road caved in late Wednesday evening creating a huge crater. Repairs continued late into Thursday night, one lane on Pedder Road remained open for north-bound traffic and cars were diverted from Gamadia Road to Bhulabhai Desai Road. But the pile up of vehicles was felt all the way up to Breach Candy, Babulnath, Kemps Corner and Hughes Road. 
    Civic officials said the portion sank because the over-century old 1-km long underground stormwater drain system, that stretches from Kemps Corner to Haji Ali, collapsed. Leaks in underground utilities possibly caused water to seep into layers and weaken the base on which the asphalt road had been laid. This in turn led the road to cave in and resulted in a 5 ft wide and 1.5 ft deep crater. 
    Residents feel they were fortunate there was no mishap, though the traffic scene was bad. Ram Ajoomal, president of the Peddar Road Residents' Association (PRRA), said, "Only a few months ago, the road was laid and now it has caved in again. The traffic diversions were not working.'' 
    Disha Shetty, an HR professional, took 45 minutes to travel from Breach Candy to CST on Thursday evening. "There was bumper-to-bumper traffic between Babulnath and Kemps Corner. Finally, near Cymroza Art Gallery we alighted from our cab and simply started walking. We took another cab when the road was clearer,'' she said. 
    "One lane near the cavedin portion of the road was open to motorists. But when that lane got choc-a-block with vehicles, we directed the remaining motorists to Gamadia road and further to Talyarkhan chowk,'' a senior traffic police official said. Most vehicles were directed through Wilson col
lege road. A team of 70 traffic police constables and 8 officers were on duty in the area throughout the day. 
    Officials from the BMC's storm water drains department said as soon as a call was recorded at the disaster management cell at 10:30 pm, "we barricaded the area immediately. We started digging the road to locate the fault and finally created a 10 ft by 10 ft 
trench. We decided to reinstate the entire patch of 9.5 m.'' "Earlier, gaps between the layers of bricks, stones and earth and the final asphalt were filled by lime. Now we will use sand metal casting and lay cement pipes. We hope to finish the work by Friday morning. The most important part is the curing process, where the cement settles down,'' they added. 
    Local corporator Arvind Bane said this is the fourth time a portion of the road on top of the drain, especially on the stretch between Cumballa Hill telephone exchange and Cadbury Junction,had caved in.The previous incidents were near Jindal house and Vasant building. 
    The old drainage system is a dhapa one, made of long blocks of stones. After years of erosion, the soil underneath weakened and caused the drain to collapse, said officials. The solution, they said, is to replace the entire system on the stretch between Jaslok Hospital and Cadbury Junction. 
    Incidentally, the BMC had carried out major repairs on the same stretch early this year in May and the road had remained shut for a little more than a week. "We couldn't get the storm water drain repaired the last time the road was dug because it is not possible to undertake work on two utilities simultaneously. Moreover, since the MMRDA flyover will be constructed and utilities would be shifted then, there was no point wasting so much money,'' said a civic official. 
    Last year, a road at Jacob 
Circle caved in, leaving three dead. A BMC probe then revealed the reason for the cave-in was a cavity in the main sewerage line. 
Additional municipal commissioner RA Rajeev said that strengthening and rehabilitation of storm water drains for the old city area will be taken up under the 
Brimstowad project. "The first tender has already been issued. The second one will be issued after the code of conduct ends,'' he said. 
The century-old dhapa drains underneath Pedder Road are not going to be replaced by conventional drains soon. The underground stormwater drain network, about 565 km in the island city, is a series of dhapas or twofeet wide masonry stones laid on top of open drains, to create outlets for rain water. Replacing them will mean dealing with over 20 utilities, most of them unmarked on maps not updated for ages.

BMC workers digging at the site on Pedder Rd

One of the stones in the drain caved in (left), leading the road above to collapse

Serpentine queues at Chowpatty

Five girls die, 34 injured in Delhi school stampede

New Delhi: Five girls died and at least 34 others were injured—six of them are critical—following a stampede in a government school at Khajuri Khas in northeast Delhi on Thursday morning. The stampede broke out when around 300 students rushed up and down the school's lone stairway, following a lastminute change in exam seating arrangements. 

    There were also allegations that boys misbehaved with girls and "tried to fall on them'', triggering the melee. A boy was among those injured. Around 1,200 boys and girls of classes VII to XII gathered at the school on Thursday for their half-yearly examinations. The school normally runs separate shifts for boys and girls but exams are held together. Students said at around 9 am, they were asked to shift rooms as the hutments where the boys usually sat for their exams were flooded.

KILLER PASSAGE: The narrow staircase where the pushing and shoving took place on Thursday

Tuesday, September 8, 2009



This coming September 9, 2009, is the 252nd day of the year, 252 adds to 9, and 09-09-09 = 27. 
    09-09-09 is also the last of the single-digits dates for quite a while - 1,001 years to be precise. 
    The day itself falls on a Wednesday and both Wednesday and September have 9 letters. 
The date 09 09 09 refers to the 
opening of the 'Triple Nine crystalline Gateway'. It holds the energy peak for the year 2009, and carries the geometric frequency of the triple nine simply because that is the 'date' you all know, you all see, write, speak and hold within your thoughts. How does one access this energy? Meditation is a great key and they recommend that you take your brain waves down to a frequency that allows the receiving of these energies in their fullest. 
The number 9, according to Hindu mythology, is considered auspicious. "We have Navratri, nine avatars of Goddess Durga and nine planets. Besides, the Bhagwad Gita has 18 chapters which add up to nine. In history, Emperor Akbar had "Navratnas" in his palace. Thus, the number 9 has special significance in our lives and this unique occasion when the date, the month and the year is 9 - also marked by the transition of Saturn is doubly auspicious," says S. Chaturvedi, an astrologer. However, the fact that the date is falling during the inauspicious period of Pitrapaksh seems to have dampened the spirits of many. 
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, will officially launch Dubai Metro on 09/09/2009. In 1962 an unknown pop group from Liverpool recorded their debut single. During the next eight years the Beatles created what is arguably one of the greatest collec
tions of popular music recordings of the 20th century. The albums have now been digitally remastered and are to be released on Sept 9. On the same day MTV launches The Beatles: Rock Band, a video game which allows users to pick their favourite member of the group and play along to the music. 
There have been many other prophecies from people and civilizations throughout history - and many of them have proven bogus. Following is a brief list of wellknown end of time dates: 
>> Mayans - December 21, 2012 
>> Great Pyramid - September 17, 2001 
>> Sir Isaac Newton - 2060 
>> Nostradamus - June 21, 2002

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Monsoon picks up, more rains likely this week

4% Above Normal In Last 7 Days

New Delhi: The feel-good sentiment that you may have experienced over the past 10 days or so with frequent rain is for real. After playing truant for most of the season, shortly before it exits from the country, the monsoon has picked up pace. In the past week it was actually 4% in excess of normal. 

    The spurt in rainfall, which is likely to sustain over the next seven days, was triggered by the Madden-Julian oscillation, an equatorial weather system, towards the end of August. But the phenomenon's "success'' in inducing rainfall has depended on supportive monsoon conditions over the mainland, including local factors. 
    Met officials are now optimistic that the coming week is also likely to witness good rain over several parts of the country. A strong system in the Bay of Bengal is likely to bring rain in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh to start with and, later in the week, cause showers in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan. 
    The Met says there is no immediate sign of the withdrawal of monsoon though the deficit, which has built up since June,is still likely to be more than the long-term average predictions made at the onset of rains. 
    As per the latest data, deficiency in the monsoon over the country is 21%, an improvement from the -25% two weeks back and -29% in early August. Of the 36 meteorological subdivisions in the country, 14 recorded normal to excess rain while the rest had deficient 
rain—between minus 20% and minus 59%—in the past week. 
It's raining good news for the city 
Mumbai can expect heavy showers over the next two days, according to the weather bureau. The total rainfall this season is 1,575 mm in Colaba and 1,890 mm in Santa Cruz. With lakes like Upper Vaitarna, Tulsi, Tansa, Modak Sagar and Vihar close to the brim, BMC officials said that if the rains continued, the 15% water cuts could eventually be cut to negligible levels. P 2 
Showers this week could cut rainfall deficit further 
New Delhi: With the monsoon showing signs of a revival, even the region comprising Haryana, Punjab and Delhi, which till September 2 had consistently experienced scanty rainfall—between—60% and 99%—saw an improvement. Delhi's rainfall deficiency decreased slightly, now down to 20% compared to 23% at the beginning of the month after receiving 43.6 mm rainfall in this period. 
    South and central India, which have been getting normal or excess rain in almost all parts since last week, have significantly improved their monsoon deficiency which decreased from 14% to 8% and from 20% to 15% respectively over the past two weeks. 
    The forecast for the coming week, say experts, is expected to bridge this gap further though there doesn't seem to be much hope of a "proper revival'' so late in the day, specially in northwest India which has been worst-hit this year. "A strong system has formed as a deep depression over Bay of Bengal that is slowly moving westwards. It is nearly over Jharkhand and then is likely to move over northern Chhattisgarh and MP. The monsoon is therefore very active over east and central India at present and is likely to remain so for the next 4-5 days. The west coast is also getting significantly good rain,'' said B P Yadav, director, IMD. 

    The system will start affecting northwest India in another couple of days and eastern UP and Uttarakhand will get good rainfall from Sunday or Monday. Eventually, as the system progresses, plains of northwest India will also ben
efit and till about Thursday,the region, including Haryana, Punjab and UP will see an active monsoon. Yadav said, "As of now, there are no signs of the monsoon system withdrawing from any part of the country.'' 
'Sept rains key to sustain 6.3% growth' 
Pune: Planning Commission member Narendra Jadhav said on Sunday that the rainfall in September will be critical to stabilising India's economic growth rate at 6.3% for 2009-10. "If it doesn't rain in September, the growth rate may fall below 6%, but even in the worst- case scenario, it will not go below 5.5%,'' he said. Jadhav said the Planning Commission was anticipating the average growth for the five-year term ending 2012, to be at 6.8%. This, considering that the growth rate will pick up to 8% by 2010-11 and to 9% by 2011-12. Jadhav said the effect of drought would "minimise'' only if there is good rainfall in the month of September. TNN

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

YSR’s chopper goes missing over dense Naxal & tiger-infested Andhra jungle

Country's Biggest Ever Search For The Man Who Gave Cong Decisive Edge In LS Poll 

Satellites To Tribals, Americans To Sukhois, All Pressed Into Action

Hyderabad: A helicopter carrying Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, two of his staff and two pilots went missing in pouring rain on Wednesday morning over the Naxal and tiger-infested Nallamala forests and with no contact until early Thursday, experts and officials feared the worst. 

    Soon after the chopper lost contact, multiple agencies of the state launched a massive hunt for possible wreckage in 
the desolate terrain. By evening, it expanded into the country's biggest ever search operation with satellites in the sky joining remote sensing aircraft, fighter jets, unmanned aerial vehicles, troops on the ground and even barefoot deer-hunting tribals with bows and arrows. The air force pressed its topline Sukhoi 30 MKI into a night search and flew in Dornier and Avro reconnaissance aircraft. 
    US ambassador to India Tim Roemer and Union home minister P Chidambaram spoke several times through the evening and the US volunteered
to provide information picked up by its satellites. 
    It was a flight that should not have taken off at all. The Met office had forecast not only heavy rainfall but the likelihood of fierce lightning and thunderstorms. But the 60-yearold politician was adamant. He was to kickstart a new village mass-contact programme called Rachabanda from Chittoor district (better known for the Tirupati temple) at 10.30 am and there was no way that he was missing his appointment. 
    The Bell 430 took off at 8.38 am from Begumpet airport, not more than 2 km from Reddy's residence, on its 500-km journey. For about 30 minutes, things were fine and the pilot was in touch with the air traffic control (ATC). But soon after entering the space over the Nallamala forests, it ran into problems. Rain was thick and visibility zero. What happened thereafter remains a mystery so far but in all probability, the helicopter went down. The helicopter was last in contact with the ATC at 9.12 am. The chopper had fuel to fly for 2.45 hours, enough to make it to Chittoor. 
    Apart from Reddy, the chopper was carrying principal secretary to the CM S Subrahmanyam and YSR's chief security officer A S C Wesley. The craft was being piloted by group captain S K Bhatia and captain M S Reddy. 
    "It was last sighted by villagers between Atmakur and Bandiatmakur close to Rollapenta entering the Nallamala forests from Kurnool district towards Prakasam district between 9.15 am and 9.30 am,'' chief secretary P Ramakanth Reddy said. 

Pilot's last msg: Climbing 550... 

    Victor Tango Alpha Papa Golf calling Chennai radio. We are from Hyderabad heading for Chittoor...We are climbing 550 (5,500 ft). " "Roger" That was the last radio communication from the pilot of YSR's chopper to the Flight Information Region in Chennai, at around 9.10 am. P 14 
8.38 am Chopper takes off from Hyderabad for Chittoor (approx 500 km), where YSR was to launch mass contact plan. Accompanied by principal secy S Subrahmanyam & chief security officer A S C Wesley 
9.35 am Copter declared missing. Last known coordinates: 168°, 79 nautical miles from Hyderabad. Around 10.15 am, private choppers pressed into search operations 1.30 pm Defence Chetak choppers join search but are forced to return within an hour because of bad weather 2.30 pm 2 IAF MI-8 choppers mobilised. Dornier and Avro planes 
    called in. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle on stand-by 

5.30 pm 5 companies of CRPF (600 men) enter Nallamala forest with night vision devices. By sunset, 20 teams, including 3 columns of army, state police (including anti-Naxal squads), forest and revenue officials enter 1,000 sqkm area 
Primitive tribe of Chenchus, who hunt with bows and arrows, approached for assistance 6.30 pm Chopper search called off due to poor light & bad weather. After sundown, IAF's Sukhoi-30 MKI with thermal imaging devices used 
First became an MLA in 1978 at 29, and a state minister 2 years later 
    In 2003, undertook a padayatra of the state, which helped him deal a stunning defeat to Chandrababu Naidu in the 2004 assembly polls 
    Confounded pundits and pollsters to lead Congress to 33 LS seats from Andhra in 2009, the highest won by the party in any state 
Aug 18, 1945 | Subhash Chandra Bose. Mysterious disappearance over JapanJan 24, 1966 | N-scientist Homi Bhabha in Air-India crash in Switzerland May 31, 1972 | S Mohan Kumaramangalam in IA plane crash in Delhi 
June 23, 1980 | Sanjay Gandhi while piloting a biplane over Delhi 
1990 | Industrialist Ashok Birla in plane crash 
Sep 30, 2001 | Madhavrao Scindia in crash in Mainpuri 
Mar 3, 2002 | LS Speaker GMC Balayogi in copter 
crash in Andhra Pradesh 
Mar 31, 2005 | Bansi Lal's son and Haryana agriculture minister Surender Singh & industrialist O P Jindal in helicopter crash in UP 

SURVIVOR | Then PM Morarji Desai walked away from a plane crash at Jorhat (Assam) on November 4, 1977 

The Machine 
The Bell 430 is a twin-engined light-medium chopper built by Bell Helicopter Textron 
    The missing copter was 11 years old and had twice developed technical snags earlier. Was taken out of the CM's service but used on Wednesday since the regular Westland chopper was unavailable due to servicing 
Armed Reds lurk in Black Hills 
Hyderabad: As news of the Andhra CM's chopper going missing reached New Delhi, there was a flurry of activity in the Congress and the home ministry went into a tizzy, setting in motion all emergency procedures possible. Minister of state for defence P Raju said the emergency locating transmitter (ELT) had not been activated and this gave hope that the chopper had made a safe landing. 
    What is causing immense worry is that Nallamala, or 'Black Hills' in Telugu, is a dense, hilly forest that is an extension of the Eastern Ghats. It was once the main area of operation for Andhra Naxals and armed cadres are still suspected to be hiding out in 
the forest camps. But what is known for sure is that the forest is tiger territory. "For the last three days, the forest region has seen heavy rains and zero visibility. The Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers are overflowing and the Srisailam reservoir is full. The area is full of water,'' A V Rao, a Kurnool resident, told TOI. The area is sparsely populated with Chenchu tribals. "It is an inaccessible area with no cellphone towers, radio signals,'' Rao added. Strangely enough for a helicopter carrying the chief minister, the Bell 430 did not have a satellite phone connection. 
    Alarm bells started ring
ing in the state government headquarters from mid-day but police parties which were sent out drew a blank as they could not venture out too far in pouring rain. Meanwhile, the rumour mill was active with stories flying thick and fast about how the chief minister had been rescued. Faced with a barrage of queries, finance minister K Rosiah called a press conference to deny that Reddy had been found. Later in the day, chief secretary Ramakanth Reddy said two IAF helicopters from Bangalore and one private chopper from Krishnapatnam in Nellore district scoured the area but found no sign of the CM's chopper. "Earlier, two IAF choppers from Hakimpet had set out but had to return halfway because of the inclement weather. The state has now deployed an aircraft belonging to the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) which is operating throughout Monday night at a height of 1.5 km over the forest area where the helicopter was last sighted,'' the chief secretary said. Teams which entered the Nallamala forests during the day on foot had to return because of adverse weather conditions. "We went up to 20 km into the forest but had to return as the rivers are in spate,'' K Subba Reddy, a local resident of Velgodu village, told TOI over phone after returning to the village. Late on Wednesday, hundreds of Greyhound personnel moved into the Nallamala forest riding on tractors borrowed from Nallakaluva village in Kurnool district as part of thesearch operations. Officials from the revenue and forest departments, AP Special Police and tribals were also pressed into service, the chief secretary said. TNN

Andhra Pradesh CM Y S R Reddy

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