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Kerala: Explosion at Cochin Shipyard kills 5

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Cochin Shipyard
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Kerala: Five persons were killed and a dozen others injured in a blast inside an Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) tanker at the Cochin Shipyard here in Kerala on Tuesday, police said.

Those working at the time of the blast mostly included daily labourers and contract workers. Tuesday being a holiday, no regular workers of the shipyard were present.

The blast took place around 11 a.m. in the water tank of the berthed ONGC tanker Sagar Bhushan when some 20 workers were working in the tanker ship.

The Sagar Bhushan has been docked at the Cochin Shipyard for a month for repairs and maintenance.

High ranking police and top shipyard officials have reached the accident site.

Speaking to the media, Kochi City Police Commissioner M.P. Dinesh said: “The death toll from the blast includes some who apparently choked on the smoke after the explosion.

A probe has been ordered, Dinesh said.

A trade union leader present at a private hospital here said nine workers were admitted there.

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Alliance Air operates proving flight to Kochi naval air base

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Alliance Air

New Delhi/Kochi, Aug 18 (IANS) State-run Air India’s subsidiary — Alliance Air — has operated a proving flight to the Kochi naval base as an option for rescue operations in flood-hit Kerala.

“As an exemplary initiative to fly out stranded people, AI’s subsidiary Alliance Air operated a non-commercial proving flight on an ATR (turboprop) to Kochi’s naval base with a team of DGCA, AAI and Flight Safety officials,” Air India said in a statement.

“This whole exercise is aimed at confirming the feasibility of having Alliance Air operate more flights to Kochi’s defence airbase with turboprops to evacuate passengers.”

The development comes as the state reeled under torrential rain and the worst floods in the recent past.

The grim situation has left the state with only two operational civil airports at Thiruvananthapuram and Calicut, as operations at Kochi airport have been suspended till August 26 on account of rising water levels in the operational area.

The civil airport in Kochi is severely flooded and would be closed till August 26.

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Congress MPs, MLAs to donate month’s salary to flood-hit Kerala

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Randeep Singh Surjewala

New Delhi, Aug 18: The Congress on Saturday demanded that floods in Kerala should be declared a “national calamity.”

All elected representatives of the party would donate one month’s salary towards relief efforts in the state, it said.

The decision to donate salaries was taken at a meeting of Congress general secretaries, party in-charges of states, legislative party leaders and state unit chiefs, which was presided over by party chief Rahul Gandhi.

Gandhi had earlier in the day urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately declare the floods in Kerala as “a national disaster.”

Briefing reporters after meeting of Congress office-bearers, party communications in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said the Modi government should come forward to help Kerala where over 180 people have died and property worth over Rs 3,000 crore has been damaged due to floods.

“It was decided that all Congress MPs in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Congress MLAs across India and party MLCs will donate one month’s salary, which will be sent through the AICC for relief measures in Kerala,” Surjewala said.

He said it was also decided that all Congress governments will come forward to help the people of the state.

Surjewala said Punjab government has already donated Rs 10 crore to the Kerala Relief Fund and JD-S and Congress- government in Karnataka has also donated Rs 10 crore to the relief measures. The government in Puducherry has also donated Rs 1 crore.

He said special relief committees will be formed in adjoining states including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu apart from Puducherry. Material collected by Congress workers will be sent to the people of Kerala.

Surjewala said the party also noted with concern the grave situation due to floods in Karnataka and some other parts of the country.

“Modiji should stop discriminating in matters of flood relief. The Prime Minister must rise above party-politics and come forward to help Kerala, Karnataka and other flood-affected states. The Prime Minister should declare Kerala floods as a national calamity,” Surjewala said.

Overflowing rivers and a series of landslides in Kerala have resulted in the death of 180 people as of Saturday morning, with over 3 lakh others forced to move to some hundreds of relief camps.

IANS

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Sidhu hopes Imran Khan’s victory proves good for India-Pakistan ties

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Navjot Singh Sidhu

Islamabad, Aug 18: Former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday said that he hopes ties between New Delhi and Islamabad will improve after his “friend” Imran Khan was sworn in as Pakistan’s 22nd Prime Minister.

Wearing a blue suit and a pink turban, Sidhu was among the notable guests invited to the swearing-in ceremony of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (the President House) in Islamabad.

He was also seen hugging Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa prior to the ceremony.

Praising Khan while speaking to the state-run PTV, Sidhu said: “A new morning is here in Pakistan with a new government which can change the destiny of the country.” He hoped that Khan’s victory would be good for the peace process between the two neighbours.

“I have come to Pakistan on my friend’s (Imran) invitation. These are very special moments,” he had said after arriving in the country on Friday.

“Athletes and artists erase distances (between countries)… I have come here bearing the message of love, and prayers for Pakistanis.”

“Hindustan jeevey, Pakistan jeevey!” Sidhu chanted as he welcomed the “change” in the country brought about by the advent of the Imran Khan-led government.

IANS

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