Delhi riots: As the dust settles, scale of tragedy starts to unfold



Delhi riots: As the dust settles, scale of tragedy starts to unfold

DFS data accessed by HT shows that Tuesday was the worst day of the riots and alone witnessed 89 incidents of arson.

DELHI Updated: Feb 28, 2020 07:33 I ST

Anvit Srivastava
Anvit Srivastava

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
People mourn next to the body of Muddasir Khan, who succumbed to injuries that he suffered on Tuesday.
People mourn next to the body of Muddasir Khan, who succumbed to injuries that he suffered on Tuesday.(Photo: Reuters)

At least 79 houses, 52 shops, five godowns, four mosques, three factories and two schools were set ablaze between Monday and Wednesday morning during the riots in north-east Delhi that claimed 38 lives and left about 350 injured.

A rough estimate by the Delhi Fire Service (DFS), which attended 218 calls related to arson during the riots from Monday to 8 am on Thursday, suggests that more than 500 vehicles, including two-wheeler’s, were burnt between Monday and Thursday morning.

DFS data accessed by HT shows that Tuesday was the worst day of the riots and alone witnessed 89 incidents of arson. While Wednesday saw 57 incidents of arson, 23 took place on Monday. Fourteen incidents of arson also took place between midnight and 8 am on Thursday, the data shows.

Most of these buildings and vehicles were burnt using petrol and kerosene by the raging groups moving around with no fixed plan, but armed with torches and petrol bombs.

Officials said a majority of these buildings and vehicles had been gutted completely.

Fire services chief Atul Garg said that despite the arson, only one death was reported due to fire.

“We had to remove a burnt body of an elderly woman from a building near Khajuri. She was trapped in her house when the rioters set it afire. She may have lost consciousness due to asphyxiation, after which her body was burnt. There was no other casualty because of fire,” Garg said.

The director said that from Monday till Thursday afternoon, more than 100 of their firefighters remained deployed in north-east Delhi at four fire stations in the region. “The fire stations that fall in the riot-hit areas are Gokalpuri, Shastri Park, Tahirpur and Shahdara. Usually these fire stations have two fire tenders each, always ready to respond. We increased these numbers to at least six to eight fire tenders in each fire station, as the phones in our control room just did not stop ringing,” said Garg, who led the fire fighters in the riot-hit areas on Tuesday.

However, many residents said they received no aid from the fire fighters when their houses and shops were burnt by raging mobs.

Bilkis Khatoon, who lives right behind the mosque in Ashok Nagar that was burnt, said the mob also set her house on fire.

“My house was completely damaged. There is nothing left. Had the firefighters reached in time, they could have saved my belongings and valuables,” she said, in tears.

An HT reporter who was in Gokalpuri during the riots on Tuesday said that around 11 am, when a tyre and bike accessories market in Gokalpuri was burnt, a fire tender could not reach the spot because it was stopped near Gokalpuri Metro station by a violent mob, and its personnel thrashed.

The fire tender was also destroyed.

Director Garg said five firefighters were injured in the violence. “While on our way to the spots, we had to face severe stone-pelting and vandalism. On our request, the police had given us two teams that cordoned us through the violent mob every time. We tried attending every call that we received. In most incidents of fire, the occupants of the buildings were either rescued by neighbors or they managed to escape in time,” he said.

Garg said five fire tenders were also damaged. While one was completely burnt, four others were vandalized and are repairable, he said.


Australia fires kill half a billion animals as crisis mounts



Australia fires kill half a billion animals as crisis mounts

  • Wildfires have turned southeast Australia into a charred, apocalyptic nightmare, and threaten to wipe out entire species of animals.
  • An estimated half billion mammals, birds and reptiles have been killed since the bushfires started in September, according to ecologists from the University of Sydney. The actual number is likely much higher.
  • Pictures and images on social media show charred koalas receiving medical attention, bodies of dead animals lying on the ground and kangaroos desperately running from blazes.
GP: Bushfires Sweep Across The Mid North Coast of NSW
A wallaby licks its burnt paws after escaping a bushfire on the Liberation Trail near the township of Nana Glen on the Mid North Coast of NSW, November 12, 2019.
Wolter Peeters | Fairfax Media | Getty Images

Nearly half a billion animals in Australia’s New South Wales state have been killed by raging wildfires in the last couple months, and the devastating death toll is expected to rise.

Roughly 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles have been affected since bushfires started in September, according to ecologists from the University of Sydney, who add that the actual number is likely much higher.

Southeastern Australian continues to battle massive brush fires

Wildfires have turned southeast Australia into a charred, apocalyptic nightmare as the country copes with a devastating fire season that is expected to grow worse as the summer months continue. Record high temperatures and drought exacerbated by climate change have ignited blazes that have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and nine million acres and killed 18 people.

The blazes, expected to be the worst yet this weekend, threaten to erase entire species in Australia, which already has the highest rate of extinction in the world.


Heartbreaking footage of kangaroos fleeing has been captured in Monaro, NSW, as bushfires close in.

For more fire updates: 

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Pictures and images on social media show charred koalas receiving medical attention, bodies of dead animals lying on the ground and kangaroos desperately running from blazes. Experts say the fires have likely killed millions of animals including koalas, wallabies, wombats and kangaroos.

“Many of the affected animals are likely to have been killed directly by the fires, with others succumbing later due to the depletion of food and shelter resources and predation from introduced feral cats and red foxes,” the University of Sydney ecologists said in a statement on Friday.

Roughly 34 species and subspecies of native mammals have become extinct in Australia over the last 200 years.


In record heat Australia and South Australia, where temperature have risen to 40 degrees, koalas approached cyclists on the road to seek water.

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Australia’s koala population, which is already declining and vulnerable, has been especially devastated by the fires. Government officials estimating that 30% of the region’s species may have died.

Ecologists estimate that about 8,000 koalas have died since the fires started, as the slow-moving animals are unable to escape the flames. The marsupials are one of the country’s most iconic animals, and have contributed between $1.1 billion and $2.5 billion per year to tourism in Australia, according to government data.

“Up to 30% of the koalas in the region may have been killed, because up to 30 percent of their habitat has been destroyed,” Australia’s Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation last week. “We’ll know more when the fires are calmed down and a proper assessment can be made.”

A dehydrated and injured Koala receives treatment at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie on November 2, 2019, after its rescue from a bushfire that has ravaged an area of over 2,000 hectares.
Saeed Khan | Getty Images

Images of burned koalas prompted people to support a Gofundme page for Australia’s Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. The hospital has received more than $2 million in donations since September, but is still struggling to treat injured koalas.

University of Sydney Professor Dieter Hochuli said that while wildfires are traditionally a normal part of Australia’s ecosystem, the increased frequency and intensity has enormous consequences for the future of plants and animals.

“It’s not just the charismatic well known species that are at risk either. The insects that so many of our ecosystems are reliant on for services like pollination and nutrient cycling are very sensitive to fire,” he said.

“One of the great unknowns is just how, if it all, their populations and subsequently the services they provide will recover.”

There’s a fire in Australia the size of Manhattan



There’s a fire in Australia the size of Manhattan

Fire crews' life-or-death moments caught on video

(CNN)Three fires have combined to form a single blaze bigger than the New York borough of Manhattan, as Australian firefighters battle what has been predicted to the most catastrophic day yet in an already devastating bushfire season.

The fires joined overnight in the Omeo region in Victoria state, creating a 6,000-hectare (23 square mile) blaze, according to Gippsland’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
In neighboring New South Wales state, a fire in the Wollondilly region south of the capital Sydney remains “out of control,” according to the Rural Fire Service. It has burned 264,000 hectares (1,020 square miles) of land in recent months.
Firefighters tackle a bushfire in thick smoke in the town of Moruya, south of Batemans Bay, in the state of New South Wales on January 4.

Weather conditions are deteriorating rapidly on Saturday, with the country’s Bureau of Meteorology warning that winds are picking up and temperatures increasing. “Today will be a day of severe to extreme fire danger through many districts,” the bureau said.
The death toll is rising as conditions worsen — Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday that 23 people had been killed nationwide, up from 18 from earlier in the week. More than 1,500 homes have also been destroyed since the fire season began in September.
Victoria has declared a state of disaster and NSW has declared a state of emergency — both granting extraordinary powers and additional government resources to battle the fires.
It marked the first time VIctoria has activated these powers since the 2009 Black Saturday fires, the deadliest bushfire disaster on record in Australia with 173 people killed and 500 injured.
On Saturday, Morrison announced the deployment of up to 3,000 Australian Defense Force Reserve troops to affected states. Four planes will also be leased by the government to provide water bombing, while the navy’s largest ship, HMAS Adelaide, will be mobilized to evacuate citizens along the coast.
“Today is about ensuring we deal with the urgent crisis that is existing across fire grounds in four states in particular, to ensure we’re giving everything that is needed on ground without being asked,” Morrison said at a press conference.

Evacuations ahead of deteriorating weather

All three branches of the ADF — the navy, army, and air force — have been working this week to rescue residents from fire-threatened areas and isolated towns cut off by closed roads. On Friday, the navy evacuated about 1,000 people from the Victoria beach town of Mallacoota, Morrison said.
Some residents have chosen to stay and defend their homes, even with authorities urging people to get out while they can. Matt Runko, a homeowner in Moruya, NSW, departed late Friday — but was forced to leave his neighbor behind.
“He’s pretty confident he’s got enough water and resources over there to fend it off,” Runko told CNN — but admitted it’s “definitely a little bit distressing” that his neighbor was staying in the fire threat zone.

Thick smoke blankets southeastern Australia along the border of Victoria and New South Wales on January 1, 2020. An image taken over the same area on July 24, 2019 shows a smoke-free day.


Saturday’s hot, dry and windy weather is expected to hinder firefighters and worsen the flames, after a brief improvement in conditions on Thursday and Friday.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning on Saturday morning for “damaging winds” in NSW, the state hardest hit by fires so far. A passing cold front is causing temperatures to spike and humidity to drop, and bringing strong gusts up to 90 kilometers per hour (55 miles per hour) across the state’s southeast.
Some of the biggest fires have been burning for months, but the real danger on Saturday is the wind. Not only does it make the fires grow faster and bigger, but the wind can carry embers far distances and start entirely new fires in new locations.
These winds will change directions once the cold front passes — making the fires even more difficult to control. Some rain is expected by the end of the weekend heading into Monday, but won’t be enough to extinguish the large ongoing blazes, according to CNN meteorologists.
Angus Barners, an incident controller at the Rural Fire Service in Moruya, NSW, said he expected “very challenging conditions.”
“We can’t stop the fires, all we can do is steer them around communities,” he told CNN.

India: 43 Dead In ‘Extremely Horrific’ Fire At New Delhi Factory



43 Dead In ‘Extremely Horrific’ Fire At New Delhi Factory

A fire that swept through a factory where laborers were sleeping on Sunday morning, killing at least 43 people. Relatives of the victims gathered outside a hospital mortuary in the city on Sunday.

Adnan Abidi/Reuters

A fire broke out at a factory in India’s capital New Delhi early on Sunday morning. At least 43 people have been reported dead.

Many of the victims were asleep in beds in the factory, resting between shifts, when the fire began.

Investigators say the blaze was sparked by an electrical short circuit. Most of the deaths were caused by people inhaling poisonous gases in the cramped factory, The Associated Press reports.

One man who lives in the area, Mohammed Naushad, told the AP that he had awoken to see the flames shooting from a fourth-floor window of the building. He went into the building, and on the third floor he saw 20 or 25 people lying on the floor.

“I don’t know if they were dead or unconscious, but they were not moving,” Naushad said. He carried out at least 10 people on his shoulders.

The fire broke out in a crowded quarter known for large wholesale markets.

Most of the victims were Muslim migrant workers who came from the Eastern state of Bihar, the AP reports, earning as little as $2.10 a day making a variety of garments. The BBC reports that about 100 people were sleeping in the factory when the fire broke out.

The area is so narrow that firetrucks couldn’t reach the factory, and had to shoot water from 100 yards away.

A fire engine stands by the site of the fire in an alleyway, tangled in electrical wire and too narrow for vehicles to access.

Manish Swarup/AP

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the fire “extremely horrific” and said his thoughts were with those who lost loved ones or were injured. His office promised financial assistance from the national relief fund to those seriously injured in the fire, and the families of those who died.

Deadly fires are a regular occurrence in India, as zoning laws and safety regulations are often ignored. A local fire chief told the BBC that the building was operating illegally as a factory and lacked a fire license.

Local residents told the AP the building was full of raw plastic material.

Babar Ali, 32, rescued his sister-in-law from the fire. He told the AP that the lives of migrant workers was “a bigger tragedy than their death,” as they struggle to earn a living while working long shifts in unsafe conditions.

“Their only fault was they were poor,” Ali said. “Why else would someone work and sleep in such a congested place?”

India: Unnao rape survivor dies day after being set ablaze, kin were threatened by accused



Unnao rape survivor dies day after being set ablaze, kin were threatened by accused

The woman was airlifted to the Capital and admitted to the Safdarjung Hospital as she suffered 90% burns after Thursday’s assault. The five men who assaulted the rape survivor included Shivam Trivedi and Shubham Trivedi, the two accused in the gang rape case

INDIA Updated: Dec 07, 2019 09:00 IST

HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents

Hindustan Times, Kanpur / New Delhi
Protests against rape-murders in the country in New Delhi,  on Friday, December 06, 2019.
Protests against rape-murders in the country in New Delhi, on Friday, December 06, 2019. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

A 24-year-old rape victim, who was assaulted and set on fire by five men in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao, died on Friday night, according to a doctor at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital, where she was undergoing treatment. “She suffered a cardiac arrest at 11:10 pm…we tried to resuscitate her, but she did not survive,” according to a doctor of the hospital.

Officials at the hospital said doctors tried to resuscitate her for about 30 minutes, but she died at 11:40pm.

The woman was airlifted to the Capital and admitted to the Safdarjung Hospital as she suffered 90% burns after Thursday’s assault. The five men who assaulted the rape survivor included Shivam Trivedi and Shubham Trivedi, the two accused in the gang rape case.

In her statement, the woman said the two men, accompanied by Hari Shankar Trivedi, Umesh Bajpai, and Ram Kishore Trivedi, accosted her at Gaura crossing, pressured her to withdraw the case, and then, when she declined, set her ablaze. The five men were remanded to 14-day judicial custody by a court on Friday.

The Lucknow Divisional Commissioner has constituted a five-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe into the assault on the woman.

“I visited the spot in Unnao on Thursday evening and constituted a five-member SIT led by Unnao ASP Vinod Pandey. The team will probe all aspects of the case and submit a report to me,” divisional commissioner Mukesh Meshram told news agency PTI.

Earlier in the day, when HT visited the woman’s village, it was shrouded in an eerie silence, with her father demanding exemplary punishment against the accused. “I will find solace only when the Unnao police shoot all the five who burnt my daughter,” said the father, who is a blacksmith by profession.

The 65-year-old man said his family was being constantly threatened by the accused and their associates but the police failed to take any action despite being informed about the threats.

“They were regularly threatening us; they are big people. No one in the village can afford to go against them. Instead, people always conveyed their threats and messages,” he said.

An uncle of the woman said he has been threatened with “dire consequences” by relatives of the accused. “Your shop will be set on fire and will not let you live,” the victim’s uncle described the caller as saying. “I am going to inform the police and demand action in this regard,” he said.

The Uttar Pradesh Police has deployed a team, including one sub-inspector and two constables, at the victim’s residence. “A police team has been deployed at her (victim’s) residence permanently as a precautionary measure. We will take the case to its logical end,” Praveen Kumar, IG, law and order, said.

(With inputs Haider Naqvi in Kanpur and agencies)

India: Rape Victim Set On Fire By The Accused Rapist



Set ablaze by accused, Unnao rape survivor with 90% burns, being treated at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital

A “green corridor” was provided by the Delhi Police to ensure hindrance-free movement of the ambulance that carried her from the airport to the hospital. The 13-kilometre distance was covered in 18 minutes, a release by the Delhi Police said.

INDIA Updated: Dec 06, 2019 10:20 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Unnao rape survivor was brought to Safdarjung Hospital for further treatment, in New Delhi, on Thursday, December 5, 2019.
The Unnao rape survivor was brought to Safdarjung Hospital for further treatment, in New Delhi, on Thursday, December 5, 2019. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)

A 24-year-old rape survivor from UP’s Unnao, who was set on fire by five men including two accused, is being treated in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital after she was airlifted from Lucknow on Thursday evening, officials said.

A “green corridor” was provided by the Delhi Police to ensure hindrance-free movement of the ambulance that carried her from the airport to the hospital. The 13-kilometre distance was covered in 18 minutes, a release by the Delhi Police said.

The woman suffered 90% burns, according to doctors.

 Watch | 24-year old Unnao rape survivor set on fire, treatment underway at Delhi hospital

“We have set up a dedicated ICU room for the patient. A team of doctors would be monitoring her health condition,” Dr Sunil Gupta, Medical Superintendent at Safdarjung Hospital, told PTI.

She will be under the observation of Dr Shalab Kumar, Head of Burn and Plastic Surgery at the hospital.

The woman was on her way to the Baiswara Bihar railway station to catch an early morning train to Rae Bareli for a court hearing on Thursday when she was stopped by the accused at 4.30 am, said superintendent of police, Unnao, Vikrant Veer.

She told the subdivisional magistrate (SDM) Daya Shankar Pathak at the Unnao district hospital that the men accosted her at Gaura crossing and asked her to withdraw the case. When she refused, they first hit her on the head and attacked her with a knife and as she fell, they poured petrol and set her on fire.

The police was informed about the incident by some locals who saw the rape survivor, covered in flames, ran for a kilometre pleading with people for help.

All the five men named by the woman were arrested after the incident. They inclue both Shivam Trivedi and Shubham Trivedi, who are accused in the 2018 gang rape case.

(With inputs from PTI)

India: Another Woman’s Charred Body Found In Same Area As Another Body 2 Days ago



Two days after a woman veterinarian was raped and set ablaze by four men here, the charred body of another woman, who is yet to be identified,was found in the same locality on Friday.

The suspected killing of the unidentified woman was reported from the same area -Shamshabad- where the woman veterinarian was raped and killed by four workers on November 27.

Assistant Police Commissioner, Ashok Kumar Goud, said some passersby noticed the burnt body and informed them.

Police personnel were rushed to the spot who sent the body to a state-run hospital, he added.

It was not clear whether the woman committed suicide by setting herself ablaze or whether she was killed, he said.


Trump rips California governor, threatens to cut aid as wildfires ravage state



Trump rips California governor, threatens to cut aid as wildfires ravage state

President Trump on Sunday ripped California Gov. Gavin Newsom as wildfires ravage the Golden State, saying the Democrat has done a “terrible job of forest management” and threatening to withhold federal financial aid.

“I told him from the first day we met that he must ‘clean’ his forest floors regardless of what his bosses, the environmentalists, DEMAND of him. Must also do burns and cut fire stoppers,” Trump said in a tweet.

“Every year, as the fire’s rage & California burns, it is the same thing-and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor. You don’t see close to the level of burn in other states,” he added.

Trump also said teams are working well to put out the “massive, and many” fires.

“Great firefighters! Also, open up the ridiculously closed water lanes coming down from the North. Don’t pour it out into the Pacific Ocean. Should be done immediately. California desperately needs water, and you can have it now!” he tweeted.

The tweets come as several wildfires burn in the northern and southern parts of the state.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Kincade fire north of San Francisco is the largest active blaze. It has burned more than 77,000 acres since it began last month and is 74 percent contained.

“You don’t believe in climate change,” Newsom responded on Twitter. “You are excused from this conversation.”

–This developing report was updated at 12:10 p.m.

Pakistan: 73 People Die From Fire On Train



Seventy-three people have died after a moving train in Pakistan caught fire when two stoves being used by passengers to cook food exploded, a senior Pakistani railway official, who asked not to be named, told Business Insider.

Pakistani officials first reported the fire at 9:50 a.m. on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

The train is known as the Tezgam train and was traveling from the city of Karachi across the country to Rawalpindi.

A further 47 people were injured as three of the train’s carriages caught fire when it was approaching the town of Liaquatpur in Punjab, the official added.

Pakistan Train Fire
A map showing the route of the train and the location where the fire broke out. 
Google Maps.

Pakistan’s minister for railways, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, said the fire started from a gas cylinder that was used by the passengers to cook breakfast, according to the BBC.

“Two cooking stoves blew up. They were cooking, they had [cooking] oil, which added fuel to fire,” Ahmed said, according to the BBC.

Survivors reported it took the train over 20 minutes to stop after the fire broke out, and some pulled emergency cords and ran to notify the conductor farther down the train, according to the Associated Press.

According to several local news reports, many of the victims jumped to their death as the train was still moving.

Video footage from AFP shows the scorched remains of the carriages that caught fire. Rescue teams can be seen on the scene:

The Pakistani Army dispatched doctors and paramedics to assist with rescue missions and sent helicopters to the scene of the incident to evacuate the critically injured, according to the local news site The Express Tribune.

President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan offered their condolences to the victims of the train fire.

Khan said an immediate inquiry had been ordered “to be completed on an urgent basis” on the incident.

Imran Khan


Deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy of the Tezgam train. My condolences go to the victims’ families & prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured. I have ordered an immediate inquiry to be completed on an urgent basis.

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According to the BBC, many of the passengers were traveling to the city of Raiwind to attend a major religious festival hosted by the Tablighi Jamaat, a Sunni Muslim missionary movement.

Tallahassee Florida: Woman Doused In Gasoline Inside Taco Bell, Set On Fire



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