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Cyclone ‘Titli’ crosses Odisha coast, no loss of life

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Odisha

Bhubaneswar | Cyclone Titli uprooted trees and electric poles and damaged hutments in Odisha’s Ganjam and Gajapati districts after making landfall early on Thursday morning, but no loss of life was reported from any part of the state, officials said. The cyclone also triggered heavy rainfall in at least three districts and caused minor damage to power and communication.

“There has been no major damage or report of casualty received from any part of the state so far. Some destruction was reported from Ganjam and Gajapati districts,” Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) B P Sethi said. Power supply and telephone links got disrupted and road communication snapped due to uprooted trees at many places of Gajapati district, the SRC said.

Efforts are on to clear roads blocked by uprooted trees and restore power supply in affected areas at the earliest, he said. In all, eight districts – Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore – have been affected by “very severe cyclone Titli”, he said.

Cyclone ‘Titli’ triggered heavy to very heavy rainfall in Ganjam, Gajapati and Puri districts of Odisha, while damage of hutments and asbestos-roofed houses, street lights, road blockade due to uprooted trees were reported from Ganjam. Road communication between Paralakhemundi and Mohana and some other block headquarters in Gajapati had been disrupted under the impact of the cyclone, he said.

In Ganjam, reports of damage to hutments and other structures and uprooting of trees were received from some areas, he said.

The latest India Meteorological Department (IMD) report said cyclone ‘Titli made the landfall between 4.30 and 5.30 am in south-west coast of Gopalpur near Palasa in Andhra Pradesh with an estimated maximum sustained surface wind speed of 140-150 kmph gusting to 165 kmph. The landfall process has been completed and “the centre of eye of cyclone ‘Titli’ lies over the land,” the IMD said.

The system is now moving northeastwards towards Gangetic West Bengal across Odisha and it will weaken gradually, it said. An hour after the landfall, Gopalpur in Odisha reported surface wind at 126 kmph, Kalingapatanam in Andhra Pradesh recorded wind speed of 56 kmph.

As cyclone ‘Titli’ entered the land mass, some districts, including Ganjam, Gajapati and Puri, are receiving good amount of rainfall coupled with high speed wind.

Director of Meteorological (MeT) Centre Bhubaneswar H R Biswas said the “very severe cyclonic storm” (VSCS) is being monitored by the coastal Doppler Weather Radars at Visakhapatnam, Gopalpur and Paradip.

As part of its pre-cyclone preparedness, the Odisha government has evacuated over 3 lakh people living in low-lying areas of the five coastal districts ahead of the landfall. They were accommodated in 1,112 cyclone shelters.

Altogether, 105 pregnant women in Ganjam district and 18 in Jagatsinghpur have been shifted to hospitals, the SRC said.

He said 13 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) have been deployed at several places along with fire brigade.

National

Eight cattle smugglers arrested in Uttar Pradesh

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Cow; cattle

Bahraich (Uttar Pradesh) | Eight suspected cattle smugglers were arrested here when they were trying to move the livestock to Nepal, police said on Saturday.

Superintendent of Police Gaurav Grover said the police were tipped off about the smuggling in Rupaidiha and Nanpare area of the district which is close to the India-Nepal border.

On Friday, eight cattle smugglers, four of them history-sheeters, were arrested, while they were trying to flee to Nepal, he said. The members of the smugglers’ gang had also unsuccessfully tried to attack the policemen, the SP said.

He said four animals cows, unlicensed pistol, ammunition and a transportation vehicle have been recovered from the arrested accused.

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National

7 civilians among 11 killed in encounter, protests in J&K’s Pulwama

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Jammu and Kashmir; civilians

Srinagar | Seven civilians died in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district Saturday when security forces allegedly opened fire at an unruly crowd that tried to storm the site of an encounter in which three militants and Army man were killed, police said.

The incident took place at Sirnoo village in the morning when the security forces laid siege to a locality based on intelligence reports about the presence of three militants, including an Army deserter – Zahoor Ahmad Thoker, in the area, police officials said.

As soon as the news about Thoker being trapped in an encounter spread, people started thronging the encounter site as the army deserter belonged to the same village, they said. Though the encounter ended in 25 minutes with the killing of the three militants, the security forces had a tough time as people started climbing onto Army vehicles, the officials said.

They said warning shots were fired but that did not deter the mob, forcing the security forces to open fire at the civilians. Seven civilians were killed and dozens of others injured, including a youth who’s condition was stated to be critical. Thoker had gone missing from an Army unit in the Gantmulla area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district in July last year.

He had decamped with his service rifle and three magazines and had joined the militant ranks. The security forces said Thoker was involved in several killings in Pullman district. The identities of two other militants were being ascertained.

The officials said an army jawan lost his life in the gunfight, while two other soldiers were critical. Authorities have snapped mobile internet facility in entire south Kashmir comprising four districts.

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President Kovind visits Statue of Unity, to lay foundation for railway station

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Kovind

Kevadiya (Gujarat) |President Ram Nath Kovind Saturday visited the Statue of Unity, the world’s tallest statue, in Narmada district of Gujarat on the death anniversary of India’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai
Patel.

Kovind, accompanied by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and state chief secretary J N Singh, began his visit in the morning by taking a stroll at the ‘Valley of Flowers’ developed near the 182-metre tall statue here. After planting a tree in memory of Patel, the president attended a prayer meeting at the statue complex.

The world’s tallest statue dedicated to Patel was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October. After offering tributes to Patel, Kovind visited the museum and exhibition area beneath the statue. He also visited the viewing gallery located at a height of 132 metres inside the statue.

Kovind then left the statue premises and headed to Kevadiya village, around 5 kms from the statue, to lay the
foundation stone for a railway station. The state-of-the-art railway station proposed to be built at a cost of Rs 20 crore, is aimed at providing direct rail connectivity to tourists visiting the Statue of Unity.

To connect Kevadiya with the main broad-gauge line, the Railways has sanctioned the work to convert 18-km
Dabhoi-Chandod narrow gauge into broad gauge and extension from Chandod to Kevadia by constructing a new 32-km line.

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