Andhra mourns loss of a dynamic, determined CM

Andhra mourns loss of a dynamic, determined CM

Andhra Pradesh state Governor N. D. Tiwari, second from left, congratulates state Finance Minister K. Rosaiah as he becomes interim state Chief Minister in Hyderabad on Thursday. Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy died along four others in a helicopter crash in the state’s dense mountain forest on September 2.

Andhra mourns loss of a dynamic, determined CM

Security personnel stand guard outside the residence of Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy after his body is brought back to Hyderabad on Thursday.

Andhra mourns loss of a dynamic, determined CM

Sarwar Khan, a supporter of Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy cries next to his photographs after his body is brought back to Hyderabad on Thursday. A photograph of Khan with Reddy is seen on the right below.

Andhra mourns loss of a dynamic, determined CM

Security personnel rescue an elderly woman after supporters of Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy overcrowded the stands of a stadium causing a light stampede during his funeral procession in Hyderabad on Friday.

Andhra mourns loss of a dynamic, determined CM

The funeral procession of Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, coffin seen right, moves through a street, as his son Y. S. Jagan Mohan, with folded hands left, greets people, in Hyderabad on Friday.

Andhra mourns loss of a dynamic, determined CM

Congress party President Sonia Gandhi pays her respects after placing a floral wreath on the coffin of Andhra Pradesh state Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, portrait seen left, in Hyderabad on Friday. Reddy, 60, and four others were killed when their helicopter crashed Wednesday into the jungle amid heavy rains. It took rescue teams a full day to reach the remote crash site.

Andhra mourns loss of a dynamic, determined CM

A supporter of deceased Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy breaks into tears in front of a poster of the chief minister at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium in Hyderabad on Friday.

Andhra mourns loss of a dynamic, determined CM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pays his last respects at the mortal remains of the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in Hyderabad on Friday.

Andhra mourns loss of a dynamic, determined CM

The chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance Sonia Gandhi, left, accompanied by her son and member of parliament Rahul Gandhi, second left, writes her condolence message on the demise of the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in Hyderabad on Friday.

Remains

Debris of the helicopter that carried Chief Minister of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy lies scattered at the crash site on a hill about 275 kilometers (170 miles) south of the state capital, Hyderabad, India, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009. AP

Swine flu inspires new video game

Swine flu inspires new video game

London: Since swine flu first emerged in April, it has sparked panic, vaccine production and now, a video game.In an effort to further raise awareness, Dutch researchers have created a game that challenges players to control a new pandemic.

“It is actually what is happening now, what is happening in the real world,” said Albert Osterhaus, head of virology at the Erasmus Medical Center, who designed “The Great Flu” game with colleagues.

The game can only be played online at http://www.thegreatflu.com and it is free. A World Health Organization spokesman said Monday the agency was not familiar with the game and had not had time to play it.

WHO has reported nearly 178,000 cases of swine flu including 1,462 deaths worldwide, though those numbers are believed to be a gross underestimate of the actual caseload, since hard-hit countries no longer test all cases with flu-like symptoms.

As the virus has spread worldwide, countries have tried different methods to slow it down and pharmaceutical companies are now racing to produce a swine flu vaccine.

The game begins with images of bedridden patients and graveyards from the 1918 Spanish flu. As the head of the fictitious “World Pandemic Control,” players pick a flu strain, and then monitor that strain’s spread around the world.

To fight the emerging outbreak, players use measures including setting up surveillance systems, stockpiling antivirals and vaccines, and closing schools and airports. Players also have a limited budget and are warned that “your actions to control the virus cost money, so keep an eye on it.”

A running tally of the numbers of people infected and those who have died sit above the budget. Newspaper stories about the deadly virus and the global response to it – like riots breaking out worldwide – pop up to help players monitor the outbreak.
Messages from governments mirror the difficulties faced by international agencies like WHO. For instance, when players set up costly surveillance systems, the game often relays a message from governments that “we will comply with your directions…but we must inform you that the political support for this action is low in this region. Therefore, the effectiveness of the system may differ from your expectations.”

Osterhaus said the video game’s approximation of combating a pandemic, choosing between various interventions yet still watching the outbreak spread, gives people a sense of how difficult it is to make decisions in the public health world.

Azad blames State CMs for H1N1 fatalities

New Delhi: Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday blamed State Chief Ministers for their slow response to the H1N1 outbreak.

Ghulam Nabi Azad

He said this after chairing the State Health Ministers” Conference, which was held to review the National Rural Health Mission (NHRM).

Azad said that very few State Chief Ministers had contacted him. He said, “I had to chase State Chief Ministers rather than them asking.”

Mechanism needed to monitor health standards

As the health authorities in Delhi confirmed two swine flu deaths, he said each state should have institutional mechanism to monitor health standards.

The Minister also deflected blame after criticism over the handling of the H1N1 outbreak.

A 35-year-old female patient died at the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital on Wednesday night becoming the first victim of the virus in the national capital.

Thirty one year old Samrat Pandeya, a resident of Gurgaon, who was initially treated at various private hospitals and later brought to the RML Hospital, succumbed to the virus on Thursday morning.

Did Act of God bring down YSR’s ill-fated chopper?

Did a powerful lightning strike YSR’s helicopter near Nallamala? Did an Act of God, as lightning, earthquakes and such events are known in legal terms, pull down YSR from the heights of fame and glory to the forests of Nallamala?

Officials are looking into the possibility of a lightning striking the ill-fated BEL-430 helicopter that crashed on Wednesday killing AP Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and five others.

Experts are not ruling out this possibility because there was no plausible explanation on why the copter deviated over 18 km and hit a hillock.

Lightning may have not brought down the helicopter, but a powerful bolt from the skies may have knocked out the electronic systems leading to the immobilisation of the flight.

Experts are quick to point out that the pilots had enough time to tell the ATC in Chennai that they were deviating to avoid bad weather. Since there was absolutely no communication, there is a big doubt if the communication and other systems were rendered useless by the lightning.

Moreover, the visibility was not zero for the copter to hit a cliff in the Nallamala region. The pilots could have seen the cliff and avoided a crash. But probably, the pilots could not steady the chopper as its control systems were not working.

Another angle is that the critical altimeter may have failed due to the lightning and the pilot had no inkling on how high he was above the ground. The chopper just rammed into the hillock, broke into pieces and exploded.

Swine Flu H1N1 grips Indian cities

Swine flu toll rises 6

Swine flu is spreading to all corners of India. Starting from school-going Reeda Sheikh of Pune, half-a-dozen-people, including a four-year-old boy from Chennai and an Ayurvedic doctor from Pune, have succumbed to the disease. There are no effective vaccines to contain the swine flu. The government appears to be clueless on tackling the spread of the disease. People usually get swine influenza from infected pigs. The swine flu virus A (H1N1) spreads in the same way as seasonal influenza – through direct contact (within one metre of an infected person) or indirect contact (touching a contaminated surface). For A-to-Z of the Swine flu phenomenon, read on:

Emotions, tears and chaos fill YSR’s Pulivendula

Y. S. Jagan Mohan

Andhra Pradesh state Chief Minister Y. S. R. Reddy’s son Y. S. Jagan Mohan, with folded hands left, greets people during his father’s funeral procession in Hyderabad on Friday. Thousands of Indians gathered Friday in a sports stadium to pay their last respects to a top Indian politician killed in a helicopter crash.

Emotions, tears and chaos fill YSR's PulivendulaY.S. Jagan Mohan, left, son of deceased Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, together with Jagan Mohan’s mother VijayaLakshmi, second right, perform final rites for Reddy’s funeral at his private estate in Pulivendula, some 400 kilometers from Hyderabad on Friday. Tens of thousands of mourners paid their respects as the popular chief minister of southern Andhra Pradesh state killed in a helicopter crash this week was buried in his private estate.

Emotions, tears and chaos fill YSR's PulivendulaThe coffin bearing deceased Indian Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Y S Rajasekhara Reddy is laid to rest at his private estate in Pulivendula, some 400km from Hyderabad on Friday. Tens of thousands of mourners paid their respects as the popular chief minister of southern Andhra Pradesh state killed in a helicopter crash this week was buried in his private estate.

Emotions, tears and chaos fill YSR's PulivendulaAndhra Pradesh state Chief Minister Y.S.R. Reddy’s son Y. S. Jagan Mohan, with folded hands left, greets people during his father’s funeral procession in Hyderabad on Friday.

Emotions, tears and chaos fill YSR's PulivendulaRelatives and supporters of Andhra Pradesh state Chief Minister Y.S.R. Reddy weep during Reddy’s cremation at Idupulapaya estate, 480km away from Hyderabad on Friday.

Emotions, tears and chaos fill YSR's PulivendulaPrime Minister Manmohan Singh, right, writes a condolence message as ruling Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, centre, looks on after paying their tributes to Andhra Pradesh state Chief Minister Y.S.R. Reddy in Hyderabad on Friday.

Emotions, tears and chaos fill YSR's PulivendulaSupporters of Andhra Pradesh state Chief Minister Y.S.R. Reddy watch his funeral procession in Hyderabad on Friday.

Emotions, tears and chaos fill YSR's PulivendulaSupporters of Andhra Pradesh state Chief Minister Y.S.R. Reddy overcrowd the stands of a stadium to watch his funeral procession in Hyderabad on Friday.

Emotions, tears and chaos fill YSR's PulivendulaSupporters of Andhra Pradesh state Chief Minister Y.S.R. Reddy mourn Reddy’s death during his funeral procession in Hyderabad on Friday.

YSR chopper crash: CID probes unanswered questions

The Crime Investigation Department of the Andhra Pradesh police has launched its own probe into the death of Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and four others, who were killed when the Bell-430 helicopter they were travelling in crashed at Nallamalla forest in Kurnool district on Thursday.

The CID probe, which is being headed by Additional Director General A Sivanarayana, will also probe the possibility of a conspiracy behind the crash.

A four member committee of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has already started a probe into the crash. A case of suspicious death has been booked by the police at Atmakur police station, which is nearest to the crash site atop the hillock number 339 near Rudurakodur, in Kurnool.

Sivanarayana, who has rushed to Kurnool, held discussions with senior district police officials and also constituted a special team headed by Additional Superintendent of Police N Balaji Rao.

The police team, along with the members of the DGCA probe team, has already visited the accident site and recovered the flight voice recorder of the helicopter, which is believed to have crashed after veering off the flight path and hitting the cliff of the hillock.

Investigating the real reason behind the crash would be challenging for both the DGCA and the state CID, as all the five occupants of the helicopter died in the crash and the helicopter was also badly damaged. .

The CID will try to find out the answers to a host of questions ranging from why an old helicopter with a history of snags was chosen for the chief minister when a new one was available, if there was neglect on the part of the Air Traffic Controllers in Hyderabad and Chennai and if the helicopter was subjected to all the customary checks before it was given a go ahead for the flight.

The CID will also probe why the ATC granted permission to the helicopter to fly from Hyderabad to Chittoor in spite of the fact that it would have to face inclement weather and heavy rainfall at Nallamalla forest in Kurnool en route.

The CID will question ATC staffers in Hyderabad and Chennai on why they failed to notice the crucial fact that the helicopter had deviated 18 kms east from its regular flight path.

The Hyderabad ATC has claimed that it had handed over the control of the helicopter to the Chennai ATC when the chopper went missing, but it is not clear whether the Chennai ATC was monitoring the movement of the chopper.

Meanwhile, the four member DGCA team including Captain Irshad Ahmad, Sanjay Brahmani, S Balaji Rao and Mahinderjit Singh, has held discussions with the Kurnool district authorities and put in place a coordination mechanism to facilitate the probe. The team has gathered crucial documents from the district administration including the post-mortem reports of all the five victims.

According to sources, the post mortem has revealed that one of the victims had died of a heart attack before the helicopter crashed, though his name has not been revealed.

As part of the DGCA probe, an aircraft will be flown from Begumpet airport in Hyderabad to the crash site on the same flight path to get an idea of what might have gone wrong and how much time the ill-fated helicopter was air-borne before it met with the accident.

The DGCA will also probe why the Emergency Locator Transmitter, which was supposed to get activated after the crash and send signals about the location of the chopper, failed to work

The state government’s response, after the helicopter went missing at approximately 9.35 am on Wednesday, has also come under the scanner as it was found to be too lax and slow.

Venting her anger over this laxity, the late CM’s wife Vijayalakshmi has already complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi . “It took them 24 hours to find my husband’s body. What kind of official machinery is this,” she reportedly said when Sonia and other senior Congress leaders met her in Hyderabad on Friday.

The efforts to locate the missing plane picked up pace only at around 1 pm, after YSR’s childhood friend and political advisor Dr KVP Ramachandra Rao came to the secretariat, took matters in his hands and alerted the Centre.