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'No Way They Were Going To Survive': Texas Sinkhole Swallows Two Cars, Killing A Sheriff's Deputy

A deadly sinkhole in an industrial part of San Antonio swallowed two cars Sunday evening, killing one person and nearly trapping another who had to be rescued by passersby.

The chasm opened just after 7:30 p.m. in an area where the city is engaged in an "aggressive, vigorous, replacement program" for aging sewer pipes, San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor said at a news conference Monday.

The 12-foot sinkhole appeared near a connection between a pipe that was replaced a year ago and pipe that is decades old, officials said.

The pipe was visible in photos from the scene, which showed two toppled, submerged cars in a massive hole.

2 cars, including that of the Sheriff, fell into the sinkhole. (The Washington Post)
The Bexar County Sheriff's Office identified the victim as a reserve sheriff's deputy, Dora Linda Nishihara.

Nishihara was a part-time deputy at the county courthouse, the sheriff's office said, and officials said she was in uniform at the time of her death.

Her car was upside down, almost completely submerged and filled with gravel, dirt and other debris by the time emergency officials arrived at the scene, Fire Chief Charles Hood said at a news conference.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with her friends and family," the sheriff's office said on Twitter.

The fire department had to bringing a crane to recover the vehicles. (The Washington Post)
The fire department brought in a 100-ton crane to help lift the vehicles out of the expanding sinkhole.

At least one had been removed by late Monday afternoon.

Working against firefighters: rains that caused a flash flood warning for most of San Antonio, sewage oozing into the hole from the broken pipe and trains that threatened to destabilize everything whenever they rumbled by.

The sinkhole "was a lot bigger than last night," Robert Puente, the chief executive of the San Antonio Water System, said at the Monday morning news conference. "Every time the train [went] by, we saw pieces of earth falling in."

Disaster management: Awareness drive on red and blue floodlines

In 2005, many parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai, had reported floods that had claimed more than 1,000 lives. Eight years later, in June 2013, Uttarakhand witnessed multiple cloudbursts that had caused flood and landslides, leaving thousands of locals, pilgrims and tourists dead. Last year, heavy rainfall had hit Chennai killing 500 and leaving lakhs homeless.

The common factor between these disaster-hit regions of Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and Chennai is heavy encroachment of water bodies. In simple words, the blue and red floodlines were broken.
Two imaginary lines exist in the river floodplain — the blue line and the red line. The blue line marks a ‘once in 25 years’ floodline, while the red line means ‘once in 100 years’. “No construction should happen inside the blue line, while a controlled construction is allowed inside the red line. However, these rules are often not followed. People fall prey to illegal construction projects near water bodies and suffer,” said Aditi Deodhar, director of Jeevitnadi — a city-based organisation that works towards river and river-related issues.
In order to raise awareness about the significance of these floodlines, Jeevitnadi recently organised an event titled ‘Respect the Code Red’ at Baba Bhide Bridge near Deccan Gymkhana. Nearly 200 people, including college and school students, cummins employees and locals, had participated in the event. The programme began with an unusual ‘kirtan’, where kirtankar Vishwas Kulkarni touched upon the challenges faced by the rivers and emphasised upon our responsibilities as citizens. Through his musical narration, he also explained the concept of the red and blue floodlines and what could be the result if they are not respected.
Later, participants, dressed in blue and red with similar colour flags in their hands, formed a human chain.
According to Deodhar, rivers and streams when flow, cause erosion of their channel. Hence, rivers and streams area always at a level lower compared to the surrounding landscape. Rainwater that falls anywhere on the landscape flows into these waterbodies by gravity. They perform a very important function of providing drainage. “Mumbai and Chennai are coastal towns. Even then the water could not drain out to the sea. Topology of Pune is saucer-shaped and we are surrounded by hills from all sides. If something like this happens in Pune, it will be disastrous beyond imagination,” she added.
Talking about the inception of the event, Deodhar said that many people are fighting a legal battle against the local governance over illegal constructions and encroachments along the riverbed.
Recently, advocate Asim Sarode and architect Sarang Yadwadkar won a case against Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in the National Green Tribunal where the PMC was ordered to remove debris dumped on Mutha riverbed. “Red and Blue floodlines are not marked on the landscape and hence not many people are aware of them. ‘Respect the Code Red’ was organised to generate awareness on these concepts. We believe if people know about the hazards and refuse to buy flats in such illegal buildings, this practice will be automatically discouraged,” said Deodhar.
Jeevitnadi has recently collaborated with computer science students of city-based Fergusson College to build a software that will give power to citizens to raise voice against illegal constructions near river bodies. “The project is at a very nascent stage currently,” she added.

'Nada' ushers in happy tidings for parched Tamil Nadu

CHENNAI: After a month-long wait, the northeast monsoon finally brought its first spell of rain to the parched city on Thursday. The cyclonic storm Nada is weakening into a depression and is expected to make landfall near Karaikal around 6 am on Friday.
There was intermittent rain in the city through the day. There may not be much to rejoice as weathermen have forecast the showers to last only until Friday evening. The city, which has a 90% (62cm) shortage of rainfall this monsoon, recorded 3.5cm rain on Thursday.
Area cyclone warning centre director S Balachandran said, "The deep depression is likely to weaken and cross the north Tamil Nadu coast south of Cuddalore near Karaikal, resulting in moderate rainfall in coastal and interior districts." A few parts of the state may get heavy rain on Friday.
Revenue officials led by minister R B Udayakumar made elaborate arrangements at the state emergency operation centre, coordinating with each of district collectorates and government agencies."We are continuously monitoring the situation. Our aim is to see no loss of human life," the minister said.

Four teams of the National Disaster Response Force and the State Disaster Response Force have reached Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts to take up relief work.
Tangedco has deputed 2,000 workers with 3,000 electric posts and 100km of electric wires to Cuddalore as a precautionary measure.

Anticipating rainwater logging, the city corporation had ordered 26 electrical pillar boxes in the Adyar zone to be raised to avoid electrocution and power cuts. Rescue workers with food supply, medical aid and necessary gear are standing by in all the 15 zones of the city.
The civic body has identified 35 flood-prone areas, including Kargil Nagar (Tiruvottiyur zone), Burma Nagar (Manali), 67th corporation ward office (Thiru Vi Ka Nagar), Rail Nagar (Ambattur), Sidco Nagar (Anna Nagar), Jaffarkhanpet, River View Colony (Alandur), Chitra Nagar (Adyar), 43rd ward office (Perungudi) and (Sholinganallur). A bout 40 personnel be longing to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are positioned across the city. Residents can register rain-related complaints through the dedicated helpline: 044 25619206, 25619511, 25384965, 25383694. WhatsApp complaints can be registered through the following mobile numbers: 9445477207, 9445477203, 9445477206, 9445477201, 9445477205 According to the city corporation, there was no water stagnation reported in the city on Thursday. The met office has warned fishermen not to venture out to sea on Friday.

Disaster Management Arrangements Are In Readiness: Kiran Bedi

PUDUCHERRY: With cyclonic storm NADA likely to hit Puducherry and Karaikal regions, Lt Governor Kiran Bedi said the government has put in place all necessary disaster management arrangements.

Already government has declared a holiday for two days starting today in the two regions as a precautionary measure, she said in a twitter message.

Meanwhile Development Commissioner Narendra Kumar held a meeting with officials of PWD, LAD and other departments concerned with relief and rehabilitation works.

A release said the meeting reviewed arrangements made in the context of the cyclone. As many as 179 relief centres would operate for accommodating people in case an exigency arises.

Officials of Police, PWD, LAD and other departments were keeping a close vigil on all areas prone to be hit by the cyclone and heavy rains .

Coastal pockets would be particularly taken care of and movement of people on the coastal belt would also be restricted.

The services of the National Diasaster Relief Force would also be requisitioned in case a necessity arose, the release said.

Promoting ‘Safer School Safer India’

With the increasing need to spread awareness about fire safety, the Directorate of Fire Services, Goa signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Directorate of Education under the programme titled ‘Safer School Safer India’. The programme aims to spread awareness about fire safety in primary schools and was unveiled at the hands of Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar. This is a joint initiative taken up by the Directorate of Fire and Emergency Services, Directorate of Education (State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and Underwriter Laboratories (India).
The concept of Safer School Safer India foresees an intention to build a safer India to safeguard children and teach them how to stay safe. This intensive campaign aims to enhance the level of awareness in primary school children and through them the families. Fire safety education is to be included as part of the school curriculum with at least one period a week dedicated to this purpose. The training module is designed to create interest in children by involving them in activities that will encourage them to learn about fire prevention and safety. “The main intention of targeting students of standard I to IV is to teach them about disaster management and fire safety measures as they are young. Besides that we have also undertaken the project to train teachers so that they can share their knowledge about fire safety with the children,” says director of fire and emergency services, Ashok Menon.
Topics of the training module conducted for teachers are Module A – Good Fire and Bad Fire and Module B – Fire Triangle. Topics also depicted the 4P’s – preventing an accident, protecting oneself from fire, planning an escape and practicing being safety smart. The module which is a combination of various modes of learning is aimed to be effective among children through a strong mode visually, retreating through audio, visuals, worksheets and interactions.
In the first phase of this programme in 2015, ‘Training of Trainers’ was imparted to 46 primary school teachers from 27 schools of Tiswadi by the department. The training included various aspects of fire safety which was also provided in software to enable them to carry the training at their respective schools. To observe the implementation of safer schools, an evaluation was conducted early this year. “As of now all the schools have been cooperative. The teachers and schools should respond positively to this initiative. Hence in the long run we can achieve successful results,” says Menon.
To further provide clarity on the roles and responsibilities of the participants a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between, director of education, Gajanan Bhat and vice president, public safety mission, Underwriter Laboratories, R A Venkitachalm.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction on Thursday. This is the first major inter-governmental event after the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR). Scheduled to be held from November 3-5, the conference will pave the way for implementation of the framework in the Asian region and will also devise a mechanism for monitoring its progress.

The Sendai Framework, adopted at the third UN World Conference in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015, is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda and identifies targets and priority action areas towards reducing disaster risk. India is committed to address issues concerning DRR and strengthen resilience to disasters and to realise this, Prime Minister Modi launched India’s first National Disaster Management Plan, designed in line with the priorities defined in the Sendai Framework, earlier this year.
On the closing day, the conference will adopt the New Delhi Declaration, a political commitment of participating governments towards preventing and reducing disaster risk. It will also adopt the ‘Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework’. Voluntary statements of action of stakeholder groups towards a ‘shared responsibility’ approach in implementation of the SFDRR would also be adopted.

19 Killed, Many Injured In Stampede At Rajghat Bridge Near Varanasi

At least 19 were killed and many were injured in a stampede at a religious gathering in Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi on Saturday.

The stampede took place near the historic Rajghat bridge on the river Ganga where hundreds had gathered for a tribute organised for spiritual leader Jai Gurudev.

Thousands were crammed in very narrow roads, far more than what was permitted, according to officials.

Rumours about the bridge collapsing fueled chaos, speculated policemen.

Images showed rescuers among the dead and injured, besides shoes, clothes and belongings scattered around. Several ambulances are at the spot.

Disaster management measures reviewed

C.N. Maheswaran, Director of Social Security Schemes, who is in-charge of the district for disaster management, reviewed the disaster management measures made by the district administration and expressed satisfaction with the measures.

After chairing a meeting with Collector S. Natarajan and other officials at the Collectorate here on Wednesday, Mr. Maheswaran inspected the desilted and renovated Public Works Department (PWD) tanks, waterbodies, supply channels and cyclone shelters.

Mr. Maheswaran, who was appointed to oversee disaster management in Ramanathapuram and four other districts during the coming northeast monsoon, expressed satisfaction with the measures made by the district administration, Mr. Natarajan said.

Addressing the officials, Mr. Maheswaran said the monsoon would set in in the next couple of days and the government had asked all the districts to be in a state of preparedness to meet any eventuality. The government had given special focus in the districts of Cuddalore, Thoothukudi, Ramanathapuram and Villupuram, he said.

After the government’s alert, the Ramanathpuram district administration desilted and renovated 16 ooranies in four municipalities, 83 ooranies in panchayat unions, 320 ooranies in panchayat unions and 375 waterbodies under the control of the PWD, he said.

He advised the officials to be on high alert during the monsoon and ensure that the cyclone shelters had adequate stocks of foodgrains, vegetables, milk and other essentials and they were stored safely.

All the government hospital and primary health centres should have enough stock of medicines, especially medicines required to treat waterborne and communicable diseases during the rainy season.

All the departments should work in coordination and in the event of any disaster, they should carry out relief works on a war-footing with special focus on preventing loss of life and properties, he said.

Later, Mr. Maheswaran, accompanied by Mr. Natarjan and officials, inspected the renovated waterbodies at Lanthai and Ettivayal, recharge shafts at Manjur and cyclone shelters.

District Revenue Officer M. Ali Akbar, Paramakudi Sub-Collector G.S. Sameeran, DRDA Project Director S.S. Dhanapathy and Revenue Divisional Officer Ram Pradeepan were among others present in the meeting.

All-inclusive disaster management

Disaster management activities in the State are set to become inclusive for persons with disabilities, helping them access relief services and support during emergency situations.

The State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) is working on a project to help an estimated 7,93,937 persons with 22 different types of disabilities ranging from blindness, autism, muscular dystrophy, and hearing impairment to epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy to cope with the multiple hazards.


Recognising the fact that disability is a limiting factor in a disaster victim’s ability to survive a situation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-funded project seeks to strengthen their emergency response capabilities. The draft of a trainers’ handbook on disability and disaster risk reduction has been prepared.

UNDP State project officer Joe George said training would be organised in all districts to equip the differently abled to cope with disasters. “It will be a participatory programme involving people with disabilities and their caregivers as well as government agencies, local bodies and civil society organisations.” The project is to be implemented by the State Emergency Operations Centre. The SDMA has conducted stakeholder consultations and focus group discussions to identify the difficulties faced by persons with disabilities.

The handbook divides persons with disabilities into four categories — the visually impaired, speech and hearing impaired, physically impaired, and intellectually impaired.

It outlines the responsibilities of the differently abled, their caregivers, and local authorities in preparing for disasters. These include preparing emergency kits, assistive devices, and evacuation plans; conducting mock drills; equipping first responders; providing shelters; arranging interpretors and signages; and ensuring food, drinking water and toilets for the differently abled during disasters.

The handbook emphasises the need to educate the community on the needs of persons with disabilities and the measures to be adopted to mitigate the risks associated with them. The SDMA has prepared brochures in audio, braille, photograph, and video formats for the training programme.

Disaster management plan in place

A Comprehensive Disaster Management Plan 2016 has been formulated as part of enhancing preparedness ahead of the arrival of northeast monsoon in Puducherry, District Collector Satyendra Singh Dursawat said on Thursday .

“From the experience in tackling disasters during the monsoon last year, the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) and the District Disaster Management Committee (DDMC) have jointly formulated this plan,” he said.

Mr. Dursawat told presspersons here that emergency operation centre and control room would be in place to address emergency calls.

“There will be district-, taluk-, and village-level Emergency Safety Teams (ESTs) comprising representatives from 20 departments, including police, transport, and public distribution system,” he added.

Volunteers of NCC, NSS, and Nehru Yuva Kendra along with coastal guards would be part of the EST. In addition to the ESTs, Rescue and Rehabilitation Team constituting staff from the electricity, fire, revenue and Public Works Departments has been formed.

“To supply food and drinking water, nine central kitchens are ready,” he said.

Mr. Dursawat said that they had identified 130 acres of low-lying areas which were prone to flooding. “Besides, 120 shelters have been planned and there is a toll-free number 1070 and 1077. Apart from this, we will soon announce more emergency numbers. People can call these numbers in case of emergencies and the emergency safety teams will be rushed to the spot immediately,” he said.

The administration had taken up dredging work of all canals and drains on war-footing. “Dredging work was being carried out in 16 big canals. The commune panchayats will dredge the small canals. The work will be completed by October 20,” he said.

A mock drill would be held at 6 a.m. on October 8. “We have instructed everyone to be prepared on October 8. It will be a surprise mock drill and could be conducted in any place,” he said.

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