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Rain fury in Tamil Nadu kills over 100

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Chennai: Over 100 people were killed as Tamil Nadu continued to experience monsoon fury with heavy rains pounding various parts of the state under the influence of a well-marked low-pressure area over the Bay of Bengal.

There seemed to be no respite from the downpour with many parts of the city getting submerged. Things might get worse as the forecast predicts more rains in the next 24 hours.

The India Meteorological Department said in a bulletin on Sunday that the well-marked low-pressure area over southwest Bay of Bengal adjoining Sri Lanka persisted and “it is likely to move west-northwestwards towards Tamil Nadu coast and would concentrate into a Depression during next 24 hours.”

Under its influence, more rains are expected in the next 24 hours, the Regional Meteorological Department said.

Anaikaracharthiram (Nagapattinam) received the maximum rainfall of 18 cm recorded till 8:30 am, RMC Director SR Ramanan said, adding, Sirkali from the same district registered 17 cm. Chennai received three cm rainfall between 8:30 am and 11:30 am on Sunday.

He said heavy to very heavy rains could be expected in the northern coastal districts of the state in the next 24 hours while there could be rain in the rest of the districts.

Rains were also expected in Puducherry on Monday.

The seas would be rough, he said, warning fishermen against venturing for fishing.

Meanwhile, four persons died due to various rain-related incidents on 13 and 14 November, the government said.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa condoled the death of the four persons, three of whom died due to drowning in Kancheepuram district while one person in Vellore was killed in a wall collapse. She announced a sum of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the victims from the Disaster Relief Fund.

The incessant rains severely crippled normal life in the state capital Chennai, where most roads, residential areas and low-lying areas were inundated.

Subways at suburban Chennai connecting the residential areas were inundated, rendering them useless for commutation.

The sparse Sunday crowd of motorists were seen discussing alternative routes to reach their respective destinations.

Water-clogged roads resulted in slow movement of vehicles even as pedestrians were seen wading through waist-deep to knee-deep water in many places. Many residents were forced to stay put inside their homes following the inclement weather. Trains on the suburban Chennai Egmore-Tambaram were running slow.

The inclement weather also affected flight services. A Colombo-Chennai Sri Lankan flight was diverted back to that city while a city-bound IndiGo aircraft from Delhi was diverted to Bengaluru, airport officials said. A Silk Air flight from Singapore to Chennai was also diverted to Bengaluru, they said, adding that many services were delayed by between 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, the government announced the closure of schools and colleges in Chennai on Monday. Educational institutions in several coastal districts including Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Tiruchirappalli, and Vellore in the northern part of the states would remain closed on Monday in view of the rains, officials said.

In Coimbatore, BJP’s state unit president Tamilisai Soundararajan said the party would submit a detailed report on the situation in the rain-battered Cuddalore district to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

BJP national general secretary Muralidhar Rao, who is in-charge of party affairs in Tamil Nadu, would soon submit the report on the situation in Cuddalore, which bore the brunt of the monsoon fury so far, she told reporters in Chennai.

Replying to a question why Modi, who had announced Rs 1,000 crore to rain-affected Jammu and Kashmir, was “silent” on the plight of the state, she said that he had already expressed his deep regrets about the devastation on social media.

Moreover, it was the duty of the state government to send a report to the Centre, highlighting the problems, so that it can announce suitable funds, she said.

She also said Cuddalore should be declared as natural disaster-prone district and relief measures should be taken on a war footing in both Cuddalore and Chennai, which has also been affected by the incessant rains.

Lack of proper infrastructure in Chennai was the major reason for the “pathetic situation”, she alleged referring to waterlogging in several areas.

As many as 135 residents of Danushkodi, about 20 km from Rameswaram, were rescued by Police and Fire and Rescue Service personnel after they were surrounded by rain and sea water.

Most parts of Dhanushkodi was inundated, a report from Rameswaram quoting police said.

Earlier, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister S Sunararaj chaired a meeting in Rameswaram to discuss flood relief measures and asked officials to be on high alert.

(With inputs from various sources)

(Picture credit:news.tamilnaduonline.in)

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A Vaccine Against Pneumonia And Meningitis Saves Million Children

"far too many deaths , about 900 every day, are still being caused by these two infections."

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A child receives a meningitis vaccination at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Oct. 8, 2012.
A child receives a meningitis vaccination at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Oct. 8, 2012. VOA

A vaccine against bacterial pneumonia and another against meningitis have saved 1.45 million children’s lives this century, according to a new study.

The diseases the vaccines prevent are now concentrated in a handful of countries where the medications are not yet widely available or were only recently introduced, the research says.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children worldwide. The bacteria targeted by the shots, Haemophilus influenzae type b (known as Hib) and Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), are major causes of pneumonia and also cause meningitis. Together, the two bacteria claimed nearly 1.1 million lives in 2000, before the vaccines were widely available, according to the World Health Organization.

Vaccines against the bacteria are not new, but funding to provide them in low-income countries only became available recently.

A baby with parents
A baby with parents, Pixabay

To estimate their impact, the researchers started with country-by-country data from the WHO on pneumonia and meningitis cases and deaths, as well as vaccine coverage estimates. They factored in data from dozens of clinical studies on infections caused by the two bacteria to create estimates of illness and death from the diseases in 2000 and 2015.

They found deaths from Hib fell by 90 percent in 2015, saving an estimated 1.2 million lives since 2000. Pneumococcus deaths fell by just over half, accounting for approximately 250,000 lives saved.

The research appears in the journal The Lancet Global Health.

“What was interesting was to see the rate at which some of these deaths have been prevented in the last several years,” said lead author Brian Wahl at Johns Hopkins University, “largely due to the availability of funding for these vaccines in countries with some of the highest burdens [of disease].”

The study estimates that 95 percent of the reduction in pneumococcal deaths occurred after 2010, when 52 low- and middle-income countries began receiving funding from Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, to introduce the vaccine into their national immunization programs.

“The good news is that the numbers are moving in the right direction,” wrote Cynthia Whitney at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an accompanying editorial.

Pneumonia in child
Pneumonia in child, flickr

However, Whitney added, “far too many deaths — about 900 every day — are still being caused by these two infections.”

She notes that more than 40 percent of the world’s children live in countries where pneumococcal vaccine is not a routine childhood immunization.

Many of the countries with the largest number of deaths from these two bacteria have recently introduced the vaccines, but coverage is uneven.

India, Nigeria, China and South Sudan had the highest rates of death from Hib, the study says. All but China have introduced the vaccine in the past few years.

Half of the world’s pneumococcal deaths occurred in just four countries: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Pakistan. All have recently introduced the vaccine, though in India it is a routine immunization in only three states.

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Lowering the global burden of these diseases will depend on improving coverage in these countries, the study says. (VOA)