KOONJOO TRAGEDY: Daughter of Mauritian politician dies from severe burns

Plaine-des-Papayes, MAURITIUS
VIJAY SHAH via L’Express

The daughter of a member of parliament on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius has died from injuries caused by a lamp she lit during prayers, local French-language publication L’Express reported yesterday.

Vandana Devi Ranjat (née Koonjoo), 40, the eldest daughter of Oceanic Economy Minister, Prem Koonjoo, was admitted to the Burns Unit of Victoria Hospital in the western town of Quatre Bornes twenty days ago in critical condition, following a tragic incident while participating in family prayers at the family home in Plaine-des-Papayes, a small village near the town of Triolet in the island’s north.




Ms. Ranjat, also known by the nickname Poonam, had been lighting diyas, traditional lamps used for prayers in Hinduism, on October 3. She had been replacing a diya, when its flames came into contact with her clothes after she spilled the lamp’s fuel contents on her hand. Overwhelmed with panic, she attempted to put out the flames but to no avail and they quickly spread.

Her funeral was held today in her hometown, and was attended by national luminaries, friends and family, including former prime minister Aneerood Jugnauth and his son Pravin. According to L’Express, she leaves behind her husband and one child.

Her father is a former teacher who is also a constituency member for Vieux Grand Port and Rose Belle. He has been Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands since 2014, and previously was in charge of ministerial portfolios for commerce, cooperatives and local handicrafts, and had also worked as a private parliamentary secretary.


Alex Laridon‎.
Radio Plus – Mauritius/Ile-Maurice, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/radioplusilemaurice/
“La fille du ministre Koonjoo décède des suites de ses brûlures” – lexpress.mu/La Sentinelle Ltd (22 October 2016) http://www.lexpress.mu/article/292140/fille-ministre-koonjoo-decede-suites-brulures
“Plaine-des-Papayes: funérailles émouvantes de Vandana Koonjoo” – lexpress.mu/La Sentinelle Ltd (23 October 2016) http://www.lexpress.mu/article/292216/plaine-papayes-funerailles-emouvantes-vandana-koonjoo
“Premdut Koonjoo” – National Assembly, Republic of Mauritius http://mauritiusassembly.govmu.org/English/hmembers/Pages/Premdut-Koonjoo.aspx
“File:Port Louis, Parliament Building.jpg” –  Karsten Ratzke, Wikipedia (28 September 2015) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Port_Louis,_Parliament_Building.jpg

NORMAN ATLANTIC: Italian ship catches fire, 466 on board

An Italian-owned ferry has caught fire off the coast of Greece with 466 passengers and crew aboard, reports Al-Jazeera. Greek officials have stated that a rescue operation is under way to save travellers on the stricken ship, the Norman Atlantic, Al-Jazeera journalists have stated in the report made available online at 10:00 this morning. 

The ferry, which is believed to be carrying 222 vehicles, 411 passengers and 55 crew, was 44 nautical miles northwest of the popular holiday destination island of Corfu when it sent a distress signal after a fire was seen burning in the lower deckGreek coastguard officials said.

Several local vessels immediately rushed to the Norman Atlantic‘s aid and successfully removed 205 people from the deck so far. Fifty-five were taken in by one ship, while the other 150 people rescued so far were said to have escaped the vessel using its lifeboats and are waiting to be picked up by ships attending the SOS call.

(c) S. Tuveri/VesselFinder

The Greek rescue operation is being hampered by heavy winds and choppy sea conditions in the Mediterranean, making it difficult for ships to approach the Norman Atlantic safely. The vessel itself is being lashed by strong winds which rescuer fear may potentially cause the fire to spread rapidly to other parts of the ferry. Seven vessels have however managed to side up to the ship to rescue remaining passengers, while Al-Jazeera also reports that both Italian and Greek aircraft were seen flying above the Norman Atlantic, and two Greek firefighting ships have been sent to tackle the flames.

According to the Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency, the fire is believed to have started in a parking bay, which has a stated maximum capacity of 200 vehicles. The Greek television station Mega further reports that the ferry is also transporting an undisclosed volume of olive oil, which rescuers are concerned may pose an explosion risk if the fire reaches the ship’s cargo hold. Greece’s defence minister Nikos Dendias told Mega that Italian rescue services and military personnel responded to a call for help from Greek maritime authorities after the fire occurred shortly after the ferry left the port of Patras en route to the Italian town of Ancona at 5.30 am local time this morning. A passenger who fled the burning ship reported that heat from the blaze had caused the soles of their shoes to melt as they were waiting for assistance in the ferry’s reception area. There are currently no reports of any casualties.

According to the ship tracking website VesselFinder, the Norman Atlantic is currently off the coast of Albania near the town of Fier and had travelled between Ancona in Italy and Patras and Igoumenitsa, both on the Greek mainland. The ship is described by VesselFinder as a dual-purpose passenger and ro-ro cargo ship which is registered under the flag of Italy. She was built in 2009 and is capable of carrying up to 26,904 tonnes. The ferry is operated by the Saremar ferry company based in Cagliari, Sardinia. The company has not yet made any formal comment on the situation on board the ferry.

HEM News Agency, Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-news-agency
Al Jazeera English, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/AJEnglish
“Italian ferry with 466 people aboard on fire” – AlJazeera – Europe (28 December 2014) http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2014/12/italian-ferry-with-466-board-catches-fire-2014122885927903250.html
“NORMAN ATLANTIC” – VesselFinder http://www.vesselfinder.com/vessels/NORMAN-ATLANTIC-IMO-9435466-MMSI-247277400
“Riduzione collegamenti Festività Natalizie” – Saremar/Saremar Sardegna Regionale Marittima S.p.A. http://www.saremar.it/
“Photos” – Salvatore Tuveri, VesselFinder (24 September 2012) http://www.vesselfinder.com/vessels/NORMAN-ATLANTIC-IMO-9435466-MMSI-247277400

SMOKEY: Dog saves three people from West London apartment fire

A family’s pet dog, ironically named Smokey, has been hailed as a four-legged hero after saving three people from a fire in a block of flats in the west of London, the city’s Evening Standard newspaper reports. The fire broke out at a residential complex in the prestigious Shepherd’s Bush area and the local fire brigade have said that Smokey was partly responsible for helping save the three occupants from the flames.

Smokey, who was given his name by local firefighters, smelt smoke while with his owners at a ground floor flat in Stanlake Road. The smoke alarm in the property failed to go off as the flat began to fill with noxious fumes. The canine hero immediately awoke the two men and one women present at the property at the time, who got up only to find themselves surrounded by smoke and flames. Thanks to Smokey’s rapid actions, the occupants were able to call the emergency services who talked them over the phone as they struggled to stay alive until fire engines could reach the scene. They and their pet dog were eventually rescued and brought out of the flat with no ill-effects apart from shock and smoke inhalation. Five other people in neighbouring flats were also evacuated as a precaution, and all were treated by crews from the London Ambulance Service at the scene.

Dog and human posed by models.

It is not known what caused the fire, but pictures taken by the London Fire Brigade at the flat show a living room with heavy smoke damage. One small red armchair is seen almost completely burned to ashes, with only the front of the armrests still untouched. The smoke alarm installed in the flat, which should have gone off as the smoke took hold, did not operate as the battery was dead. Fire crews have warned London residents to ensure they check their smoke alarms.

A spokeswoman for the brigade said: “The residents of the ground floor flat – where the fire started – were lucky their dog alerted them to the fire as a smoke alarm fitted in the property had no battery in it and did not sound.

Fire engines and crews from stations in Kensington, Hammersmith and North Kensington managed to bring the blaze under control within an hour, preventing flames from spreading to other flats in the Shepherd’s Bush complex. Station Manager Nic Myatt said: “The firefighters’ hard work and quick thinking saved the lives of those they rescued.

Smokey, who appears to be a greyhound cross, also escaped from the flat without coming to harm. It is not known what reward he will receive for his act of bravery.

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“Quick-thinking family pet dog ‘Smokey’ saves three from fire at flat in Shepherd’s Bush” – Rachel Blundy, London Evening Standard/Evening Standard Limited (18 November 2014) http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/quickthinking-family-pet-dog-smokey-saves-three-from-fire-at-flat-in-shepherds-bush-9868262.html
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