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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

45 killed as speeding Volvo coach hits culvert, catches fire near Hyd

Mahbubnagar (AP): A Hyderabad-bound Volvo coach from Bangalore caught fire, killing 45 passengers trapped inside early on Wednesday, after the bus crashed into a culvert at high speed causing the fuel tank to explode. The jammed central locking system prevented people from escaping. 

    The horrific accident took place near Palem, about 140-km from Hyderabad, after the bus hit a culvert when its front wheels burst while overtaking acar at high speed. The fuel tank exploded on impact gutting the bus in minutes. 
    Among those killed were five techies who were returning to Hyderabad to be with th
eir families on Diwali. A couple who planned to celebrate their anniversary in the city, and a techie on his way to meet his newborn were among the dead. 
    Most passengers of the Jabbar Travels bus, who were woken up by the fuel tank blast at 5am, tried in vain to get out of the vehicle. The central lock ensured that only seven got out while the rest, including two babies, died a gruesome death, witnesses said. 
'Overloaded' bus had violated rules earlier 
Mahbubnagar (AP): The fire from the fuel tank explosion in the Hyderabad-bound bus swiftly spread across the airconditioning duct containing neon gas and engulfed the Volvo bus within minutes killing 45 passengers. 
    "The bodies had been reduced to ashes and there was only stench of burnt bodies everywhere," said a local witness. 
    One survivor said he saw passengers scurrying towards the exit only to find the front door bolted. "I broke open the glass window and jumped out and fainted within seconds," Srikar, a survivor told TOI later at a Hyderabad hospital. Before help arrived, six others, whose clothes had also caught fire, jumped out of the driver's seat, but it was too late for the others. 

    "He called us at 8pm on Tuesday and said he was boarding the bus. We were so happy that he is coming home. Hearing of the accident today morning, we tried calling him but there was no response," said Rakesh Singh, a relative of Akshay Singh, who died in the accident. Forensic experts said in the luggage space, several bags of human hair, flower bouquets and bags of maize were stowed and this acted as a catalyst. 
    A large police force and rescuers had a tough time retrieving the bodies because of the intense heat after the accident. By 
afternoon all the charred bodies were retrieved. 
    Trouble broke out after 14 families who arrived at the spot to claim the bodies of their kin were made to wait by the police, who said bodies would be handed over only after a forensic test was carried out in Hyderabad. 
    Authorities said the bus, which has a seating capacity of 43, had 50 passengers on board, apart from the driver and the cleaner. Though 33 passengers had booked their tickets online, some more got in later. 
    Karnataka transport minister Ramalinga Reddy said the 
driver, Feroze, had called the owner at 3.45 am to complain that he was facing some problems with one of the front tyres. 
    "Before it could be fixed, the accident occurred. Only a thorough investigation will reveal what exactly happened," he said. Those who escaped the mishap were driver Feroze, helper Fayaz and five of the passengers — Madpasha, Yogesh, Rajesh, Jai Singh and Srikar, who sustained 10-15 % burns. 
    The condition of Yogesh, who sustained 40% burns, was critical, while the driver and the cleaner are in police custo
dy after a brief medical care. 
    Former Andhra Pradesh minister J C Diwakar Reddy's brother, J C Prabhakar Reddy, who came to the accident spot, said they had sold the bus to Jabbar Travels, Hyderabad, in 2010. Transport department officials said the bus has a fitness validity till October 6, 2014. 
    District collector M Girija Shankar said the doors and the emergency windows openings were also automatically locked. He said the bus had been seized earlier for some violations, pertaining to the permit. 


The Volvo bus was about 128 km away from Hyderabad; was carrying 50 passengers. 
Bus was speeding across expressway at over 100 kmph as driver was under pressure to reach city before 7.30 am 
While overtaking another car, 
one of the front wheels burst after it hit a culvert; driver lost control 
Fuel tank exploded due to impact and fire rapidly spread through air-conditioning duct 
Neon gas in AC duct aggravated situation 
Flower bouquets, bags of maize and human hair, lodged in luggage space, also acted as catalyst for fire 
Driver jumped out of vehicle along with six others, but in his hurry forgot to release central locking system, trapping all passengers inside 
One passenger escaped by breaking open the emergency door 


    Forty five passengers 
killed in mishap 

    Most deceased hailed from Hyderabad; were returning to city either for Diwali break or work 

    At least 
five among dead were techies 

    Two babies seated towards the front died in the blaze 

    Many were 
traders coming to Hyderabad for festival or business 

    Daughter of a district judge of AP also among dead 
(With Team TOI inputs)

Flames engulfed the bus within minutes as its fuel tank exploded

DANCE OF DEATH: The ill-fated Volvo bus up in flames at Palem village in Mahbubnagar

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Docs alarmed as antibiotics lose sting ‘Drug Resistance Could Make Treatment Of Severe Infections A Challenge’

New Delhi:Are we approaching the end of the antibiotic era? A statement to this effect by none other than the US's Center for Disease Control and Prevention has sent shock waves within the medical community here. The bacterial disease burden in India is among the highest in the world. Also, a significantly large population is at risk of secondary infections through non-communicable diseases necessitating antibiotics. This is almost a doomsday scenario. 
    Antibiotic resistance is a resistance of bacteria, such as E Coli, which causes gastroenteritis or urinary tract infections, to a drug to which it was originally sensitive. 
    "The end is nearing. We are forced to use older drugs with known side-effects to save lives because the current high-end antibiotics have become ineffective in some infections. The microorganisms have evolved at a higher speed than drug development," said Dr Sumit Ray, vice-chairman, critical care medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. 
    He added, "Colistin, a fourth-generation antibiotic developed in the 1960s, used to be forbidden in hospital-acquired infections as it damaged the kidney. But now we have to use it routinely." Health experts say no new groups of antibiotics have been developed since the 1990s. "Carbapenem is the 
last group of antibiotics developed worldwide. There have been modifications to the available antibiotics but no new drug has come up. This is despite an increase in drug-resistant microorganisms. The New Delhi superbug or New Delhi Metallo-BLactamose 1 (NDM1) is just one example," said Dr Ray. 
    Ramanan Laxminarayan, the vice-president for research and policy at the Public Health Foundation of India said antibiotic resistance is seen across the world. "But unlike the developed countries, our preventive measures are not as robust. Unavailability of clean drinking water and poor sanitation 
cause widespread infection, necessitating antibiotics," he said. Drug resistance is found in community and hospital acquired infections. 
    Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis C-Doc Centre for Diabetes, Obesity, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology, said drug resistance is common in bacterial diseases 
like typhoid, pneumonia, wound infections, etc. "There is no government control on the sale and purchase of even high-end antibiotics. People get it over the counter for common fever or diarrhoea," he said. He conceded that many private practitioners prescribe advanced antibiotics where it is not required. 
Have we entered the 'end of antibiotics' period? A statement made by the US' supreme body on health policies, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, has sent shockwaves among the medical community. Here's why India must worry, and act: 

The bacterial disease burden in India is among the highest in the world Lack of clean drinking water & sanitation causes infections Diabetes, heart diseases and cancer—diseases that cause low immunity—are common New drug-resistant bacteria, such as New Delhi metallo-B-lactamose-1 (NDM1), found in the past 10 years Fungi, known to cause infection in critically-ill patients, are turning drugresistant, too, studies show 

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE Patients: Take antibiotics as 
    prescribed by doctors, avoid 

Physicians: Prescribing antibiotics only when needed, surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and use, and practising infection control to prevent spread of drug-resistant pathogens 
Government: Strong policy measures, such as a ban on over-the-counter sale of high-end antibiotics 
Cancer patients 
People receiving chemotherapy can quickly become serious due to infections; effective antibiotics are critical to save them 

Surgery cases 
Risk of infection at the surgical site is high in operations like cardiac bypass. In some cases, antibiotics are given to prevent infection 

Rheumatoid arthritis 
Infl ammatory arthritis affects the immune system; antibiotics are vital to check infections in patients 

Patients undergoing dialysis for end-stage renal disease 
Infections are the second leading cause of death in dialysis patients 

Organ and bone marrow transplants 
Recipients are vulnerable to infections. Antibiotics make organ transplants possible 

Staph infection in wounds and bloodstream, pneumonia cases 
Pseudomonas infection in urinary tract, abdomen and bloodstream 
Infections caused by E-Coli bacteria 
Hospitalacquired infections

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In a first, city co’s bank KYC hacked, 17 lakh withdrawn

Mumbai: Personal details provided to the bank as part of know-your-customer (KYC) norms are no more secure. In a recent fraud, at least Rs 16.7 lakh was stolen from a Mumbai company's bank account after fraudsters hacked into the bank's server and tampered with the information submitted under KYC guidelines. 

    The fraudsters replaced the victim's mobile number in the database with their own so that fund transfer alerts were sent to them. They then transferred money to seven different accounts across India. The money was withdrawn from these accounts and the account holders paid a commission. 
    "This is the first time that fraudsters have tampered with KYC information and swindled money," said cyber law ex
pert Prashant Mali, who is representing the fraud victim. TRACING THE E-FRAUD The fraudsters managed to get the victim's bank login and password from illegally available bank databases They hacked into the bank's know-your-customer database & replaced victim's mobile number with own They then logged into the victim's bank account by using a Nigerian IP address, and generated a onetime password (OTP) Used OTP to transfer money to 7 bank a/cs in India set up by agents, whom they paid 10% of the loot 
Fear of fraud rises in India Inc: Survey 
Fear of frauds runs deep in India Inc. The Global Fraud Report released by Kroll shows 71% of those surveyed in India feel that their exposure to fraud has increased, up from 67% last year. P 21 
'Hold bank responsible for breach' 
Mumbai: The fraudsters who stole at least Rs 16.7 lakh from the bank account of a Mumbai company clearly planned the crime intricately. 
    According to advocate Prashant Mali, who is representing the fraud victim, the fraudsters first procured the net banking login and password of Mumbai-based Raatronics—in all likelihood from illegally available bank databases. They then turned to hacking the bank's know-your-cus
tomer (KYC) database and changing the mobile number provided by the company's proprietor Ashish Goradia. Investigators traced the IP addresses of the computers from which hacking was committed to Nigeria and the United Kingdom. 
    After substituting Goradia's mobile number with theirs, the fraudsters obtained a one-time password to carry out a transaction. Funds were transferred out in the first week of May. Goradia learnt about the fraud later in May when he visited 
the bank's Juhu branch. "We were shocked because the number we provided to the bank was functional. The bank should be held responsible for the breach," he told TOI. 
    "Many more clients of the nationalised bank may have been defrauded with similar modus operandi. The Reserve Bank of India should take strict note of the bank's lapses," said Mali. They have lodged a complaint with the police and approached the adjudicating authority for refund of losses and compensation.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

735 dengue patients in city this month: BMC

Mumbai:The extent to which dengue has spread in the city became clear on Tuesday when BMC officials gave out, for the first time, figures of patients treated in both private and public hospitals. As against 578 dengue patients treated in public hospitals from January to September, BMC officers on Tuesday revealed that this month had seen 735 patients. 

    The dengue outbreak in the city has cost 11 lives so far, prompting the BMC to call in experts from Delhi's National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme and the National Institute of Malarial Research from Goa. 
    Till Tuesday this month, 615 dengue patients were treated in private hospitals and 120 in public hospitals. 
    "An analysis of our data shows that 50% cases are re
ported from non-slum areas and over 90% of the (mosquito) breeding was found in patients' homes or surroundings," municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte said. 
    Two of the newest patients are assistant municipal commissioner (estates and markets department) Chandrashekhar Chore and his eight-year-old daughter. Both are in Jaslok Hospital. 
    Chore is the same officer against whom a departmental 
inquiry was initiated after the Mazgaon building collapse that killed 61 people. 
    Additional commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said the BMC was clearing up outdoor breeding sites, but people should ensure that their homes were free of denguecausing mosquitoes. 
    The BMC also plans to make the dengue test—the NS1 antigen test—available at 50 dispensaries within the next three days. It is so far available only in the major public hospitals. 
    The BMC has also served notices to 570 housing societies found responsible for failing to prevent mosquitobreeding sites. It has already begun collecting blood samples of dengue patients admitted to Sion and Kasturba hospitals. These will be sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune to ascertain if there is any mutation in the virus.

Cops draw HC’s ire: Is police station a Mughal durbar?

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Tuesday came to the aid of a family settled in the US whose property in Juhu worth Rs 32 crore was targeted by alleged land grabbers. 

    A division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice Gautam Patel rapped the Juhu police for their failure to investigate the family's complaints properly and take action. "Is the (police station) like a Mughal durbar where people have to come repeatedly with their complaints," asked the judges. "The police do not take timely action, as a result of which people are forced to come to the courts." 
    The high court has asked the police to record the statement of Pune-based com
plainant Rajeshree Shrivastava. Shrivastava's brother Rajan Patel owns the Juhu property along with his family members. The court has also directed the police to probe allegations of forgery and file a chargesheet accordingly after completing investigations. 
    Darshan Bungalow is a ground-plus-one-storey structure spread over 6,480 sq ft 
in a layout known as Hatkesh Society in Juhu. It is owned by US-based Patel and his family. According to advocate Tripti Shetty, the property, due to its prime location, has been repeatedly targeted by builders who tried to grab it in 2008 and 2011. Each time the police registered a case of trespass. 
    The latest incident happened in 2012, when four 
persons broke into the property and tried to put up a board claiming that the land belongs to 'Stature Lifestyle'. Shrivastava lodged a complaint and the police booked the accused for trespass. At the time of bail, the accused produced documents purporting to show that a member of Patel's family had gifted the property for free to their servant Samarbahadur Singh, who passed it on for redevelopment to Stature Lifestyle. 
    "We brought this to the notice of the police and asked them to add the charge of forgery," said the advocate. But the police failed to take any action. The Patels also discovered that an attempt was made to change the name on the electricity bill for the property. 


    A ground-plus-one structure, called Darshan Bungalow, in a Juhu layout has been targeted many times by alleged land grabbers, according to the family that owns it. After each land grab attempt, cops just registered a case of trespass 

    The latest bid happened in 2012, when four persons tried to put up a board at the property claiming that it belonged to 'Stature Lifestyle'. The four claimed that a member of the owner family had gifted the property to their servant who passed it on for redevelopment

Freak haze, humidity choke city

Mumbai: Surprised by the winter-like haze blurring the trees in the park during your morning walk and finding it difficult to reconcile it with the daytime temperature hitting mid-30 degrees Celsius? A freak weather condition has hung the haze over the city for almost a week now. 

    Unseasonal rains in October and a spike in humidity levels have triggered the haze. Though humidity has dropped considerably over the past two days, the smog, bolstered by pollution, still sits over parts of the city, leading to a spike in allergic and viral infection cases, said officials. 
    Doctors say children and those already suffering from chronic respiratory problems such as asthma or bronchitis are more at risk. 
Pollution levels spike in city as rains recede and smog lingers Haze Is Usually Seen In Nov: IMD 
    The smog that has enveloped the city for the last week is unusual, say Met officials. "We generally see this kind of a weather situation in November. This time, however, the haze seems to have set in early," said K S Hosalikar, deputy director general of IMD, Mumbai. 
    The haze initially built up as humidity levels of about 60-65% coupled with cloud formation. Now, industrial and vehicular pollution have led to the smog lingering in the atmosphere, said officials from the meteorological department. 
    "There was moisture in the air which caused a haze. If the winds were stronger, it would have dispersed. But mild winds let it hang for many days," said an official from the India Meteorological Department (IMD). 
    As the rains petered out, the pollution levels have been increasing. Mumbaikars have been breathing in more than double the nitrogen oxide 

levels. What's more, the suspended particulate matter too has been greatly fluctuating. 
    "Anything above 100 micrograms of suspended particulate matter (SPM) in 1 cubic metre of air is bad for health," said an official from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, adding that the levels are always higher in parts of the city. In Sion, for instance, the nitrogen oxide levels have been constantly above 160 units since last week. The SPM levels have been fluctuating anywhere between 60 and 261 units. 
    "Whenever the wind speed is low, the pollutants cannot be blown away. When the weather gets cooler in the next few days, the SPM levels are only likely to increase further," explained Dr Rakesh Kumar of the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI). 
    Officials said visibility in the morning (between 6.30am to 10am) has been around 1,500 metres instead of 2,000m. After sunset, the visibility has been around 3,000m instead of the usual 4,000-5,000m. "Visibility improves during the day. The pattern is likely to continue for the next two months as the onset of winter would again cause a haze," another IMD official told TOI. 
    "Right now, humidity is around 30% and moisture content low. Hence, the haze has lifted. Due to cyclone Phailin, there is a low pressure zone around Konkan which is causing mild clouds and smog around Marathwada," said Manoj Indulkar, scientific assistant at IMD, addfing that it will turn into fog as winter approaches. 

Moisture due to rain and cloud formation and a rise in humidity levels cause a haze. Industrial and vehicular pollutants add to it. If the wind conditions stay mild, the haze hangs for longer and doesn't disperse 

THOSE AT RISK City doctors say children and those already suffering from chronic respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis are the most vulnerable

Clouds and haze hang over highrises

Sunday, October 20, 2013

BMC comes up with manual to tackle disasters

Mumbai: In the wake of the Mazgaon building collapse, the BMC's disaster control unit has proposed a new emergency support system to improve the response time and clearly define the roles of all agencies involved in times of a tragedy. 

    A manual called Mumbai Emergency Operations Plan (MuEOP) has been published and it will be treated as Gospel by the civic body during emergencies. "Such a document is an asset to the subject of mitigation of trauma and will increase efficiency in many aspects of disaster management," said S S Shinde, joint municipal commissioner and project director, in the manual's preface note. 
    A source said that during the Mazgaon building crash, there was a lack of co-ordination between various agencies involved, affecting the response time in rescuing victims. 
Even after the building collapse, at the behest of a local corporator, families of the victims who had been rehabilitated in Ghatkopar were brought back, saying that their livelihoods were being affected and relief should be given to them in the same area. This could have been avoided if the BMC had its policies in place, said the source. 
    The manual aims to define the mission and purpose of agencies involved in disaster and emergency situations. The BMC has also published a community resiliency indicator master plan, which too will be crucial in mitigating disasters. 
    "Not only the community at large, but also the efficiency and capability of personnel discharging duties are important. In order to increase their 
efficiency, it is imperative that the chain of command and co-ordination of agencies become understood by all concerned," said Indrani Malkani, V Citizens' Action Network, who helped the BMC formulate the document. 
    As per the MuEOP, 14 emergency support functions (ESF) have been identified. Some of them are communication, fire-fighting, search and rescue, relief supplies and public safety and law and order. The manual states that each ESF will be headed by a lead agency and will be supported by the identified support agencies. 
    In case of a building collapse, the fire-fighting ESF will come into play and the fire brigade will become the lead agency and the incident commander. It will direct the search and rescue operations and co-ordinate with other required supporting agencies like the BMC's disaster control unit, BMC's hydraulic department and the Mumbai police. A per
sonnel assigned to each support agency will work in accordance with the lead agency. On receipt of a call from the fire brigade, the situation will be brought under control, by augmenting men, machinery and the required resources.


Major blaze in upscale Bandra bldg, 20 rescued

Mumbai: A major fire broke out in an upscale Bandra building on Waterfield Road on Sunday evening. 

    Fire bridge personnel rescued around 20 people, including women, who were trapped inside Silver Pearl building. The ground-plusfive-storey structure houses commercial establishments, but most of them were closed for Sunday, except for two gyms on the first and fourth floors. One of the gyms was exclusively for children. 
    Sixteen fire engines were pressed into service and they took nearly two hours to bring the blaze under control. The power supply to the building was cut off to prevent further damage. 
    The Bandra police registered a case of an accidental fire. "We rescued all the people trapped inside and no one sustained injury," said inspector Rajendra Kane. The po
lice said prima facie, the fire could be a result of a short-circuit. Further probe is on. 
The last person to be rescued was John Bosco (36), who was brought out of the third 
    floor that houses 
    the office of a 
    branded accessory maker. The 
    fire had spread on 
    lower floors and he was screaming for help from an open window. He then called his manager who alerted the fire brigade. The personnel had already rescued 19 people from the first-floor gym and was searching for more survivors. When they learnt about Bosco, they positioned their ladder near the window and another team entered the office through the stairs. 
    "There was no fire in my office but floors below were badly damaged. I stayed put in office and did not run downstairs," Bosco said. TNN

Sixteen fire engines took two hours to bring the fire under control

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Youth and children top city’s dengue casualties

Mumbai: The aedes mosquito seems to have caused more damage to youngsters this season. Out of the nine Mumbaikars who succumbed to dengue this year—confirmed or otherwise— five were minors, while three were in their early 20s. 
    In some cases dengue appeared to go the swine flu way, as significantly higher number of patients from vulnerable groups like children, pregnant women and people with underlying problems landed up in intensivecareunits. 
    Experts say that though thereis nostudy to proveit yet, it mightbe possiblethattheimmunity system of the young itself may be playing the foe. Doctors admitted the incidence of dengue deaths is much more than what is being reportedin civichospitals. 
    Dr Khusrav Bajan, intensivist at Hinduja Hospital, said the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) is higher among youngsters. "Whenever there is an infection that affects the body, the immunity system gives a very strong response. It releases cytokine mediators, a type of toxins to kill the infection," he said. However, this syndrome may backfire and inflame the normal cells too. "This response is much higher in a teenager's or a youngster's body. Since they release more toxins,it may justleadto multiorgan failure," Dr Bajan said. 
    The BMC meanwhile, has 
not yet made the same conclusions. "There have been 660 casesof dengue reportedin civic hospitals this year so far. Therehavebeen six confirmed deaths, two suspected deaths due to dengue and we are still awaiting post-mortem report of another onetoknowif itis a death due to dengue," said Dr Mangala Gomare. "We have not yetstudied allthecases,but afewof thedeathsseem tohave occurred because of dengue shocksyndrome," shesaid. 
    Dr Om Srivastava, director of infectious diseases department at Jaslok Hospital, said the pattern of dengue presentations have changed. "It is not just the platelets that decrease. White blood cells start to fall and the platelets drop only by the fourth or fifth day now. Also,thetimebetween getting the virus and becoming acutely ill has decreased, leading many patientstotheICU," hesaid.

3 Indians suffer a stroke every min, don’t know it

Mumbai: Three adults suffer from a stroke every minute in India and around 5 million people are disabled globally due to the brain attack each year. Yet, half the residents of metros in India are unaware of strokes and their link to the brain. 

    A survey carried out across six metros in the country has revealed that awareness of astroke is abysmally low. More shocking is the fact that increasingly younger people are becoming vulnerable to strokes, reasons for which vary from lifestyle to ignorance about the problem itself. "Most people think that stroke is related to the heart," Dr Shirish M Hastak, neurologist and former president of the Indian Stroke Association, said. 
    A stroke occurs when a blood vessel taking blood and oxygen to the brain gets blocked or ruptured. When this happens, brain cells don't get the required blood. 

MEGA BLOCK WORLDWIDE 20m suffer strokes each year 
5m die, 5m left disabled/yr 
1 in 6 suffers stroke in lifetime IN INDIA 1.5m suffer strokes each year 
3,000-4,000 hit every day 
Strokes kill more than TB, HIV and malaria put together 
42% Mumbaikars ignorant of strokes 
Brain Disease Affects 1.5mn Indians: Study 

Mumbai: Younger people are increasingly suffering strokes, but knowledge about the problem is shockingly low in most Indian cities, a survey shows. 
    Astroke occurs when brain cells do not get the blood they require. Deprived of oxygen, nerve cells stop working and die within minutes, so the part of the body they control can't function either. "It is extremely difficult for a person to seek immediate medical help if one does not even know about a problem," Dr Dr Shirish M Has
tak, a neurologist, said. 
    The survey covered 1,507 people aged between 25 and 50 years in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, and Chennai. It 
mainly captured the respondents' awareness and understanding of the term stroke, its symptoms, perceived causes, the prevailing knowledge about treatment options, and their experiences with stroke sufferers. 
    Worldwide, 20 million people suffer from stroke each year, five million die and another five 
million are disabled. In India, 1.5 million suffer from stroke every year and 3,000 to 4,000 are affected each day. According to the survey, 48% of people did not know what stroke meant. 
    "Bangalore scored fairly well with 68% aware of what a brain stroke is. Mumbai's performance was average with 58% aware that stroke is associated with the brain, followed by Kolkata. Delhi and Hyderabad had the lowest levels of awareness, with 36% and 27% respectively," said Dr Hastak. 
    The survey showed younger people were getting vulnerable to strokes. Doctors said it had to do with their lifestyle and eating habits. "I've observed an about 15-20% increase in the 25-40 age group reporting a stroke or unmistakable symptoms of it," said Dr P P Ashok, head of neurology, Hinduja Hospital. 

STROKE | A stroke occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is disrupted, causing brain cells to die as oxygen and glucose cannot be delivered to the brain 

Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body) 
Loss of voluntary movement and/or sensation may be complete or partial. 

Sudden trouble speaking or understanding speech, seeing and walking. 

Emergency medical care should be sought 
The affected person should be made to lie flat to promote optimal blood flow to the brain 
If drowsiness, unresponsiveness, or nausea are present, the person should be placed in the rescue position on their side to prevent choking if vomiting occurs 
While aspirin plays a major role in stroke prevention, once symptoms of a stroke begin, doctors say additional aspirin should not be taken till the patient receives medical attention

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

With 210m, India home to a quarter of the world’s hungry Record High Cereal Production & Global Hunger Puzzle Govts

In a striking paradox, the number of hungry people in the world was estimated at 842 million in 2011-13 by the Global Hunger Index (GHI) report released on Monday even as world cereal production was estimated at a near record level of 2,489 million metric tonnes a few days ago. About a quarter of the world's hungry, or 210 million, are in India alone. 

    The number of hungry people appears to have declined slightly from the 870 million estimated in 2010-12, but the current GHI report says this is due to a recalculation of how undernourishment is measured by the UN-linked Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Since 2006, the absolute number of undernourished people has remained unchanged but their proportion to total world population is declining because the latter is growing. 
    The 2013 GHI is calculated for 120 countries for which data on its three component indicators are available and where measuring hunger is considered most relevant. The three indicators used are: the proportion of undernourished people, the proportion of children under five who are underweight, and the mortality (death) rate of children younger than age five. The report has been brought out by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and two international 
charities Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide. 
    Where is India in all this? The 2013 GHI says that in India the proportion of the undernourished declined from about 21% of the population to 17.5%, the proportion of underweight children declined from 43.5% to about 40% and under-five mortality declined from 7.5% to about 6%. All this put together means that the hunger index for India declined from 24 to 21 between 2003-07 and 2008-12. 
    The proportion of underweight children is an estimate done by IFPRI as the last survey was done in 2004-05. 
    In other words, the proportions and the index for India are at best an approximation. Other surveys done more recently have shown trends that indicate that the nutritive value of food consumed per person is dipping. A recent survey of consumer expendi
ture said that nutritional intake measured in terms of calories declined from 2,153 kilocalories (Kcal) per person per day in 1993-94 to 2,020 in 2009-10 in rural areas and from 2,071 to 1,946 Kcal in urban areas. These shocking results are according to a report of the 66th round of survey done by the National Sample Survey Organisation. Even between 2004-05 and 2009-10, the calorie intake per person per day dipped from 2,047 to 2,020 in rural areas and from 2,020 to 1,946 in urban areas. 
    Despite these caveats regarding the GHI data, India still remnains in the "Alarming" category of countries classified by the severity of hunger. That puts it in the category where the hunger index is between 20 and 29.9. Others in this category are Ethiopia, Sudan, Congo, Chad, Niger, and other African countries. These are places ravaged by resource wars 
and extreme poverty, and they make up the bottom-most bunch in the human development index rankings. 
    Meanwhile, an October report on food prospects issued by the FAO forecast a record cereal harvest for 2013, powered by a 7% rise in production over 2012. Wheat output is estimated at 705 million tonnes (MT), a record. Coarse grains output is put at 1,288MT, another record. And rice output is estimated at 496MT, yet another record. Wheat prices have declined in international markets by 16% over the past year, rice prices are down 23% and those of maize by 35%, according to FAO's price monitor in October. With good production and declining prices worldwide, why the world's hungry are not getting enough food is a conundrum that policy makers and experts are struggling to answer.

Govt plan helps 35 kidney patients get free transplants

Mumbai: Mulund resident Ashok Jaiswal is working after a gap of four years. Between bouts of weakness and thricea-week dialysis, the 32-year-old could never dream of financing a kidney transplant for himself. But the Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana (RGAY), the state government's free surgical treatment for families earning less than Rs 1 lakh per annum, came to his rescue eight months ago. 
    "My mother donated one of her kidneys to me. Our operations were done for free at Sion Hospital," said Jaiswal, who works at a lottery stall in Ghatkopar. 
    Thirty-four other kidneyfailure patients have benefitted similarly since the scheme came into being 15 months ago. "We plan to increase this number by a lot more in the future," said RGAY CEO Dr K Venkatesam. While the insurance plan allows coverage of Rs 1.5 lakh per year for a family, the limit is Rs 2.5 lakh for kidney treatment, including immunosuppressive drug therapy for a year. Seven city hospitals are empanelled by RGAY to per
form kidney transplants. 
    Some problems remain. Take the case of Geeta Pednekar, a Parel resident who underwent a transplant on July 3. "My sister's dialysis sessions before her transplant were funded by RGAY," said her brother Kedar. 
    She got a call from Sion Hospital at 3am asking whether she would be willing for a cadaveric (deceased donor) transplant. The family did not realize they could contact the RGAY helpline to register the operation. "We had some money and borrowed the rest from friends to pay for the operation," Kedar said. As prior permission is needed to avail of RGAY funding, the Pednekars cannot get reimbursed. 
    Sachin Shipai (29) from Alibaug got only partial benefit from the scheme when he underwent a transplant at a private hospital in the city three months ago. 
    "I had to pay Rs 80,000 of my own to the hospital because it charged for the operation of my donor—my mother," he said. 
    Dr Venkatesam said, "There are some grievances and we are looking into them."

Saturday, October 12, 2013

In the Eye of Cyclone Phailin

New Delhi: Cyclone Phailin hovered over the shores of Odisha and northern Andhra Pradesh late on Saturday and was forecast to churn the coastal districts for six hours with fierce winds of over 200 kph, surging sea level and giant waves, but largescale evacuation of people is expected to minimise the impact. 

    The storm uprooted trees, sent hoardings flying, and snapped telecommunication and power supply, leaving vast areas pitch dark. The most menacing storm to hit India in 14 years is expected to rattle the coastal region until Sunday. "The intensity will continue until Sunday morning, but will slowly mellow down by Monday morning. With the tide rising up to 3-3.5 metres, sea water could enter in land up to 300-600 metres. The Ganjam area will be maximum hit due to this," said India Meteorology Department director general LS Rathore. Ganjam, Puri, Khurda and Jagatsinghpur districts are also vulnerable, he said. 
    Phailin's trajectory and intensity are similar to the super-cyclone of 1999 that killed 10,000 people in Odisha. However, authorities are much better prepared to deal with Phailin as they are equipped with much better communication systems and have evacuated lakhs of people in low-lying areas which are most vulnerable.

Clockwise from above: Strong winds hit Gopalpur in Odisha; evacuated villagers in a temporary shelter in the state; fishing vessels return in Visakhapatnam — Agencies

PHAILIN THUNDERS IN AT 200KMPH Gopalpur heads for toofan shelter

Gopalpur-on-sea: For people of Bada Arjyapalli, a village on the beach here, cyclone threats and high tides are routine. They seldom panic when the weatherman talks about the sea turning rough or a storm striking. 

    But on Saturday morning not a soul here was taking things easy. They picked up their valuables and trudged to the nearby government building for shelter. Cyclone Phailin was on its way and everyone knew the threat this time was way serious than what it is otherwise. 
    "We've sent our families to the toofan building (cyclone shelter). We're ensuring no one is left behind," B Parseya said, as the sea swelled and roared deafeningly. Ganjam collector Krishan Kumar was on the job all night, evacuating people within 10km of the coastline. 
By morning about 200 of the 2,000 residents of Bada Arjyapalli were in the village. By midday everyone had left. 
    The administration had instructed people not to stay at the cyclone shelter in their gram panchayat. It was too close to the sea. Villagers walked a few kilometres to another facility at Kanamana. 
    Several villagers found it hard to move leaving their belongings behind. "The 1999 super cyclone almost flattened our village. We had to rebuild our houses and lives. Today we face that possibility 
again," said Jogamma (65), her eyes on her new TV set. 
    "When human life is at stake, what can material possessions do?" butted in Sitamma. "We are praying that the storm passes off without causing much damage," she added. 

57k evacuated in Jagatsinghpur 
agatsinghpur is deserted. Hours before Phailin's estimated time of arrival on Saturday, gusts of wind blowing more than 100 kmph and driving rain have being tearing through the coastal district. Power supply was cut at midnight. Barring the district control room monitoring evacuation work, the entire town plunged into darkness. Till Saturday morning, 57, 000 people had been evacuated to 232 cyclone shelters. "We've identified 240 villages in four blocks as very vulnerable. Three ODRAF teams and one of NDRF are in theses blocks" district emergency officer S K Das said. Ersaama, worst hit in the 1999 super cyclone, is being given top priority. Administration officials evacuating people was an uphill task evacuate people. "People were reluctant to leave. Our officers had to persuade them to move to rescue centres," collector (Jagatsinghpur) Satya Kumar Mallick, said. Riyan Ramanath V

Preparedness could reduce casualties

New Delhi: If there is a silver lining in the grim foreboding of a monster storm, it's the realization that lives aren't that cheap in India any longer. For, the measures taken by the administration in the run-up to Cyclone Phailin to reducecasualties and minimize losses doesn't have parallels. 

    The superior preparedness and response this time for disaster is in sharp contrast to previous disastrous storms like the 1999 super cyclone. They are also in contrast with the Uttarakhand disaster when the state authoritieswerecaughtflat -footed. This time disaster management authorities are confident of meeting the challenge with minimal casualty. 
    The Odisha coastline has been dotted with cyclone shelters, none of them more than 2.5 km from habitation. This has ensured that over 5 lakh people could be evacuated in the last two days. Otherwise, moving such large numbers could have been impossible. 
    Nothing has helped more than an early and accurate warning of the impending natural disaster. The Doppler radar has gone a long way in enabling this. 
Over 5 lakh shifted ahead of Phailin landfall 
NewDelhi:Advancementsin technologyhavehelped in the evacuation efforts immensely by giving accurate alertswellbeforetheincident.ThoughtheMetdepartment did issue cyclone alerts even in 1999 based on satellite images, these were mostly too close to the landfall and not pinpointed in terms of location. 
    Today, there is a Doppler radar in place at Bhubaneswar, giving out precisecoordinatesin termsof geographical spread, intensity and timing of cyclones. This enables early alerts to the local authorities and wider dissemination of cyclone warnings in the vulnerable areas,facilitating timely evacuation of people likely to be affected. 
    The electronic media boom and 24x7 news coverage further ensured that Phailin became a household name well before its landfall. 
    Evacuations play akey partin disaster mitigation. Unlike 1999, when the super cyclone caught the victims as well as government authorities by surprise, around 5.25 

lakh evacuations were already complete by the first half of Saturday. 
    The cyclone shelters have been built under the Centre and NDMA's NationalCycloneRiskMitigation Project, a World Bank-assisted initiative. 
    These two-storey structures can withstand wind speed up to 300km per hour and moderate earthquakes. The massive evacuation may not have been possible but for the relentless 
effortsof thelocal administration.Alocalofficialsaid when some of the villagers refused to leave their houses, the authorities even went to the extent of threatening them withdetention and arrest,ensuring immediate compliance. The creation of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in 2006 ensured that there were around 2,300 personnel, specially trained in disaster mitigation and response, available for deployment, along with equipment like inflatable boats, lifebuoys and power saws. 
    Incidentally, Odisha had set up its own Odisha StateDisaster ManagementAuthority andOdisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) soon after the 1999 disaster, muchbeforetheNDMA andNDRFcame into being. Last but not the least, the coordination between thecentral andstate agenciesthistimewas "remarkably good", as an NDMA member put it, with IMD religiously relaying cyclone updates to NDMA, MHA and the state government. 
    The national executive council, which was almost non-functional until the Uttarakhand disaster, has been very active, with the Union home secretary taking daily meetings over the last couple of days, coordinating mitigation and relief preparedness with various nodal ministries, armed forces, NDRF and state authorities.

Monster Phailin Batters Gopalpur In Odisha, Heavy Rains Now Pose Threat Of Floods

Deadly War Between Man And Nature

Intensity To Wane In 6 Hours As Winds Move Further Inland

Gopalpur/Bhubaneswar:CyclonePhailin kept its stormy date with the Odisha coast,striking justoff Gopalpur around 9.15pm on Saturday with winds raging at 200km an hour whipping up a storm surge of over 3 metres and inundating areasup tohalf a km inland. 
    Thousandsof people braced for a fateful night as gale force winds swept Odisha from Gopalpur up toParadip and northern Andhra Pradesh too faced high speed storms, torrential rain and surging waters. 
    Saturday night will prove crucial in determining if evacuation efforts have succeeded as the danger now lies in con
tinuous, high intensity rainfall and winds in the range of 150-200kmph that can flood low-lying areas and damage vulnerable huts and poorly constructed housesin thestate. 
    Phailin's intensity is likely to wane after six hours as the cyclone becomes a "conventional" storm with wind speeds of 70-80kmph.After sixhours,theweather system wouldhave movedon to neighbouring states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. 
    With Odisha evacuating 3.5 lakh people and Andhra Pradesh moving another 2lakhtosafety, authoritieshopelossof human liveswillbe minimal.Yet,with12 cm rain expected to pound the coastal and inland areas in the next 24 hours, rescue machinery, including 18 choppers, 12 aircraft and two Indian Navy ships, is atstandby. 
    Phailin is not a super cyclone,butthe howling winds and the sight of trees being uprooted revived traumatic memoriesof the1999cyclonethatkilled an esti
mated 10,000 and left lakhs homeless in 14coastaldistrictsof Odisha. 
    As the eye of the cyclone—about 15-km across—struck the Gopalpur area, thestormsurgeinundated areasof Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha and Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh. Gopalpur received a hammering as mediapersons and 
localssecuredthemselveswithin official buildings. 
    Roofs of kuccha houses and asbestos sheets could be seen flying off in a distance. Even before Phailin reached Odisha shores, at least five persons were killedby treesfelledby a storm. 
    As Phailin reached its predicted landfall,earthsciencessecretary Shaile
sh Nayak told TOI, "Our predictions on the cyclone's speeds have been proved correct.Butthe next24hourswillbecritical asheavy rains andhighspeedwinds can causedamage." 
    The darkness of the night made it toughto assessthedamageimmediately.
Praying for Puri 
    The cyclone didn't come in the way of rituals at the Jagannath temple. Priests performed puja for the town's safety. "In 1999, Puri was supposed to take the brunt of the storm. But the Lord saved us," a priest said. P 15 
Shelters full 
    Shelters built after the 1999 cyclone are now hubs of activity. The shelter at Kanamana in Ganjam, which has five rooms including one for pregnant women, is full to capacity. Volunteers are serving people rice and dalma. 
Tourist exodus 
    Over two lakh tourists have left Puri in the last three days. Almost all hotels and restaurants are shut and have reported large-scale cancellations of bookings. "The loss will be huge," said Odisha's tourism director. 
Prez evacuated 
    Durga Puja festivities were cut short in West Bengal's seaside resorts as evacuations began. Even President Pranab Mukherjee hurriedly left his home in Bengal's Birbhum district for Delhi to avoid being stranded. P 15 

No trains on Visakhapatnam-Howrah route. 183 trains cancelled, 26 diverted, 3 railway zones hit 
No flights out of Bhubaneswar 
No power in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapada. Hospitals in a limbo till Sunday evening 
5.5 lakh evacuated to 500 shelters in Andhra & Odisha. Many fisherfolk refuse to leave, some boats stranded at sea 
2,000 disaster relief personnel, 2 Navy ships, IAF choppers waiting to take over 
It's not a super cyclone, intensity less, says Met office. Eye of storm is 15km wide; Kalingapatnam-Paradip stretch to bear brunt 
Next 6 hours crucial. Extent of damage to be known only by morning. Fear of floods as rain lashes both states 
Giant waves triggered by Phailin crash in Visakhapatnam on Saturday 
Low-lying areas flooded, people move to shelters 
    Even at sea, the cyclone was 500km across, its massive stretch encompassing hundreds of cloud masses who's down drafts cause winds to gust to 240kmph. It did not lose speed as it approachedtheOdisha coast andisexpected to carry on in its path inland without stopping. 
    Sincethecyclonehit at nightitwillbedifficult to immediately assess the damage in terms of roads blocked, telephone and power linesdown,buteven beforethecyclone arrived, railway and air schedules were cancelled.Markets and roadslookeddesertedin Bhubaneswar and Cuttack on Saturday as panic-struck people preferred to stay indoors. Durga puja pandals wore a forlorn look as heavy rain lashed coastal areas and sky remainedovercast. 
    All passenger flights from and to Biju PatnaikAirportherewerecancelled. 
    "It's wait and watch time. Let's pray that God does not unleash much damage," said Saroj Sahoo, a retired government servant in Bhubaneswar.Thecity'sbusiest roadJanpathhardly had any vehicle plying. 
    Puja organizers cancelled all cultural events, removed flashy lights and vulnerable structures. "The cultural programmes automatically stand cancelled. We pray goddess Durga to save the pandals from getting blown away," said Pabitra Mohan Behera, president of the Nayapalli puja committee in Bhubaneswar. 
    The twin cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar have around 200 big budget pandals, spending Rs 30 lakh to Rs 50 lakh each. The sea has inundated low-lying areas and parts of Gopalpur like Bada Aryjapalli and Podampeta. Several trees were uprooted. Electricity supply was broken at most places. The Ganjam administration managed to evacuate around 1.20 lakh people within 10km off the coast; in other parts of Odisha like Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapada another 2.3 lakh peoplewereevacuated. 
    In Ganjam, the administration had designated 1,060 buildings as cyclone shelters. Official sources said in addition to the people moved away by the administration, another 30,000 people areexpectedtohave gone 
tosafer locationson their own.Even then,officers fear the loss to human and cattle life and property. 
    Civil and police officers and elected representatives were working towards minimizing human casualty, with chief minister Naveen Patnaik laying maximum emphasison it. 
    At cyclone shelters, cooked food is being served while dry food has been kept ready to tacklethe post-cyclone needs,he added. 
    Cuttack and Bhubaneswar experienced frequent power cuts starting from Friday night with power distributor CESU snapping supply as a precautionary measure. 
    "We are keeping a close watch of the situation and cutting power depending on the windssituation. Wherever thespeedcrosses 50km per hour,wewillstop the power supply completely," said CESU chief operating officer Sudarsana Nayak. Hundreds of trees were uprooted in Paradip, Jagatsinghpur and Puri districts by Saturday morning muchbeforethe anticipatedlandfall.

Monday, October 7, 2013

ONGC oil leak hits Uran coast Heavy Pollution Feared Along 10-Km Stretch

Navi Mumbai/Mumbai: A pipeline in the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation's Uran plant developed a leak on Sunday night, spilling about 5,000 litres of crude oil into the Arabian Sea that spread about 10km along the coastline and caused considerable water pollution. 

    The grey-black film of oil stretched along the Uran shoreline, from Mora to Karanja villages, adversely affecting local fishermen and raising ecological concerns. Environmentalists said if the oil seeps into the sand on the shore, it could irreparably damage the soil and the region's flora and fauna. They added that given the spread of the spill, the quantum of crude leaked into the sea could be high. ONGC ordered to clean up Uran oil spill, environmentalists push for quick action 
Navi Mumbai/Mumbai: A Maharashtra Pollution Control Board officer, Kishor Kirlekar, visited on Monday the area affected by the oil spill from the ONGC plant in Uran. He said that a detailed report on the incident will be submitted to the tehsildar's office. A source, meanwhile, maintained that about 5,000 litres of crude oil "had leaked into the Arabian Sea". 
    S K Pathak of the ONGC said a power failure hit the Uran plant around 8pm on Sunday, causing the machines to trip. "Due to this, pressure built up in the portion of the trunk line, which carries oil and gas, at the plant and there was a minor leak in the 2-inch drainage line 
called decongealing line." 
    Pathak added that, alerted by a foul smell, "we mobilized the crisis team and plugged the leakage by clamping the pipeline and the situation was brought under 
control in the night". Some leakage was plugged on Monday morning too; "the leaked crude oil was blocked in the drainage channel and the quantity pumped back". Also, the channel leading towards the sea was blocked to prevent further discharge of crude. Pathak said that a marine agency was deployed to clean the spill; "cleaners and absorbents are being used for mopping up the shoreline". 
    Uran tehsildar Sheshnath Patil said, "The water surface and rocks on the shore have become greasy due to the spill. We have informed the ONGC administration to undertake the clean-up of the coastline. Fishing activities have been discontinued for some days, at least until the coastline is cleaned." 
    A local fisherman, Martand Nakhwa, lamented, "The fishing community in the villages of Mora, Nagaon, Danda and Karanja will be 
greatly affected. The spill is bound to kill some fish." 
    A Mumbai-based environmentalist emphasised that 
the water must be cleaned immediately to "prevent further spread of the oil". 
    Rakesh Kumar of the Na
tional Environmental Engineering Institute said the oil may have spread to the sand on the shore due to tidal activity. "If it seeps into the sand, it will ruin the top layers and stunt the growth of plants and animals in the area."

The oil slick threatens both soil and flora and fauna in the area

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

RTO to train school bus drivers on road safety

Mumbai: The Western India Automobile Association (WIAA), along with the RTO, will conduct a two-day camp in Mumbai to train 5,000 school bus and other heavy transport vehicle drivers on "safe driving". 

    Said Tardeo regional transport officer K T Golani, "It's a government of Indiafunded project. It is being organized by WIAA, which will provide simulator-based training. The RTO is also part of this programme wherein we will send the bus drivers, truckers for the training programme. We are also asking the motor-driving schools to send freshly trained drivers so that they can participate in the camp and get sensitized on all aspects of road safety." 
    Golani stated that the primary objective was to educate all the drivers so that they ensure safety of every school student they ferry and also of tourists/commuters (in tourist buses). 
    The organizers of the camp, which will kickstart from next week, will pay Rs 250 to each participant besides awarding a certificate and a Rs 1-lakh accidentinsur
ance scheme. "It is a comprehensive camp, which comprises both theory and practicals. We want every participant to benefit from this training. It should be put to practical use," he said. 
    Nitin Dossa of WIAA said that such camps will be an ongoing process to train drivers of heavy vehicles on road safety. "We have one of the best simulators in the country for 
heavy vehicles. It was inaugurated recently by the chief minister and it will be used to enhance the driving skills of every participant," he stated. 
    The WIAA has a good infrastructure on its premises near Churchgate station to conduct the camps. Sources said that the camps will be monitored by the road safety cell of the Union ministry of road transport.

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