Indian police file case against 3 over coaching center fire, death toll rises to 20

At least 15 students died on May 24 in a fire in a building in India housing a college, officials said. (AFP)
Updated 25 May 2019
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Indian police file case against 3 over coaching center fire, death toll rises to 20

  • Commissioner of Police in the city of Surat said one of the three men named in the police report ran the classes and has been arrested
  • The Gujarat government has ordered an inquiry into the incident, as well as a fire safety audit of schools, colleges, coaching centers and commercial buildings in Surat

NEW DELHI: Indian police said on Saturday they had filed a culpable homicide case against three people as the death toll from a building fire in India’s Gujarat state rose to 20, with students attending coaching classes accounting for all those killed.
Satish Sharma, Commissioner of Police in the city of Surat, told reporters that one of the three men named in the police report ran the classes and has been arrested, though no charges have been brought yet.
The Gujarat government has ordered an inquiry into the incident, as well as a fire safety audit of schools, colleges, coaching centers and commercial buildings in Surat, where the fire occurred.
Some eyewitnesses and families of the victims have alleged fire officials were slow to arrive, according to Reuters partner ANI. Paresh Patel, whose daughter was inside the commercial complex when the fire broke out, said the fire brigade took 45 minutes to arrive. “Even though my daughter got saved, she is still in trauma,” he told ANI.
Initial investigations showed the fire, which broke out in the stairway of the multi-story Takshashila Arcade building, was caused by a short circuit, according to local media reports. Police were not immediately available to comment on Saturday.
A government official said at least 50 students were in the complex when the fire broke out. Injured victims were rushed to hospitals and the toll could rise further.
Television footage showed students desperately trying to escape by jumping off the building as smoke billowed from the top floor.
“To avoid such tragic incidents, I have asked officials to conduct fire safety audit of all buildings,” Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said on Friday.
There was no safety equipment installed in the building and no escape routes for the students, a fire official separately said.
Police said the building owner was among the three people named in the report but did not provide further details on their identities.


Manila calls for collective efforts to combat terrorism

Updated 18 September 2019

Manila calls for collective efforts to combat terrorism

  • Attacks on Saudi oil facilities a ‘wake-up call’ to the world, VP tells Arab News

MANILA: The Philippines on Tuesday called for collective international efforts to combat terrorism in the wake of strikes on Saudi oil facilities.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Vice President of the Philippines Maria Leonor Robredo said that the attacks were a “wake-up call” to the world and threatened not only her country’s economy but also Filipinos working in the Kingdom.

“I know for a fact that Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of combating terrorist activities. Now that we have heard of the recent attacks last week in the Middle East, it is another wake-up call for all of us that the threat is still there,” she added.

Speaking at her office in Manila, Robredo said that such strikes would have a negative impact on the Philippines. “The attacks are not just expected to affect our economy, but also the future of Filipino workers who reside there (Saudi Arabia).”

On Tuesday, Reuters reported a drop in oil prices. Oil ended nearly 15 percent higher on Monday, with Brent logging its biggest jump in more than 30 years amid record trading volumes.

“My stance is that attacks will continue if we will not step up as a community of nations in really working together, doing collective efforts to combat terrorism,” said Robredo.

HIGHLIGHT

Following Saturday’s coordinated drone hits on key Saudi oil sites, the Philippine government convened an emergency meeting afternoon to discuss the situation.

Filipino Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also expressed concerns about the possible impact of the terror strikes, particularly on oil prices and supplies to his country.

“This is serious. It will — not could — affect us deeply; to put it bluntly, an oil shortage or steep rise in oil price will rock the Philippine boat and tip it over,” Locsin said on Twitter.

Following Saturday’s coordinated drone hits on key Saudi oil sites at Khurais and Abqaiq in the Eastern Province, the Philippine government convened an emergency meeting on Sunday afternoon to discuss the situation.

Present during the meeting held at the Department of Energy (DoE) headquarters in the city of Taguig were officials of the Electric Power Industry Management Bureau, Industry Management Bureau, the National Electrification Administration (NEA), the National Power Corporation (NPC), the Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), and the PNOC-Exploration Committee.

“We are seeking to ensure that the energy family will be sufficiently prepared to face the potential impact of this unfortunate incident, if any, on the country,” Secretary of Energy Alfonso Cusi said in a statement.

“Rest assured that the DoE, together with the entire energy family, is closely monitoring the situation, and will keep the public properly informed of developments on the matter,” he added.