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Assembly Polls: 59.78% voter turnout in WB, 55 % in Assam till 1 pm

Voting for Assembly polls in the second part of the first phase in West Bengal and for the second and final phase in Assam is underway. Voter turnout in West Bengal was 59.78%, while Assam registered a 55% turnout till 1 pm.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called on voters from both the states to cast their votes in large numbers.

"Requesting all those voting in Assam & West Bengal today to cast their vote in large numbers," the Prime Minister tweeted today. Meanwhile, voters were seen queuing up in long lines since the wee hours, showing their eagerness to cast their votes.

Nitish Kumar elected JD(U) chief, set to take on PM Modi

The Janata Dal (United) national executive unanimously elected Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as the party president on Sunday. He replaced Sharad Yadav, who had been at the helm since 2006. The new responsibility will enable Nitish to lead the JD(U) from the front and expand it by negotiating mergers with other parties on the one hand and reaching out to different sections of people all over the country on the other. He will engage Prime Minister Narendra Modi on ideological and public issues on a regular basis. If all goes well, he may well be in a position to challenge Modi by the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

AI plane crashes onto Hyderabad building wall in freak accident

The compound wall of a private building in Hyderabad collapsed on Sunday when an Air India plane being transported by a crane from the airport to Air India's training centre, crashed against it. No injuries were reported. According to an Air India official, the 70-ton A-320 aircraft, which was to be used for training, crashed when the 200-ton crane transporting it suddenly collapsed. The incident occurred at 7 am on Sunday on Hyderabad's Old Airport Road. The plane was not damaged, says NDTV.

Tired of waiting for govt help, Latur residents deal with drought on their own

Using their own money, residents of Latur have decided to desilt and widen two barrages in the area, hoping that they will be filled when the monsoon breaks with enough water to last a year. The initiative is led by five Latur men who have decided not to wait for government help any longer. The men make an unlikely team – they are former RSS pracharak Ashokrao Kukude, Congress politician Trimbakdas Zawar, rising sugar industry baron BB Thombre, advocate Manoharrao Gomare, and social activist Makrand Jadhav, according to The Economic Times. "We don't want a favour from western Maharashtra, nor can we wait endlessly for the government to do something," said Jadhav.

6 dead, 56 injured as J&K bus falls into gorge

Six people died and 56 injured when a bus fell into a gorge in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday. "A bus carrying 62 passengers, on its way to Rehand village in the district, suddenly fell of the cliff into a deep gorge, around 20 kilometers away from Doda town," said Bhupinder Kumar, deputy commissioner of Doda. Three people died on the spot. The other three died on the way to the hospital. Seven of the injured are in a critical condition, says The Indian Express.

Kollam fireworks tragedy: Senior temple officials missing

Senior officials of the Puttingal temple in Kollam, Kerala, have reportedly absconded after an illegal fireworks show killed about 100 people and injured more than 350 early on Sunday morning. The police have filed a case of culpable homicide against these temple officials, as well as one against father-son duo Surendran and Umesh who had organised the fireworks display. According to NDTV, Surendran and Umesh were both injured when a lighted cracker landed on a cache of other fireworks. Both are being treated at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital.

Politics, elections behind Kerala temple tragedy

The Sunday tragedy at Kollam, Kerala, where more than 100 people died when a fireworks display during a temple festival went bad, can perhaps be blamed on the upcoming assembly elections in the state. According to sources in the Kerala Secretariat and the Kollam District Collectorate, additional district magistrate A Shanavas and district collector A Shainamol, both of whom had denied permission for the fireworks, were threatened by local politicians and Hindu groups. The sources added that even on Saturday afternoon, it was not certain that the fireworks display would be allowed, says The Indian Express. "But the temple authorities managed to get the support of political parties," said a source.

Disney's 'The Jungle Book' bags biggest Hollywood opening of 2016 in India

Disney’s The Jungle Book collects 9.76 Crores Net on day 1 and sets a new benchmark in India! India got to watch The Jungle Book on April 8th, a week before US release. The movie has bagged the biggest day 1 for a Hollywood release in India for 2016. It scores the 3rd biggest day 1 for any Hollywood movie ever in India after Fast & Furious 7 & Avengers Age of Ultron.

It is also the 2nd biggest opening across Hindi and Hollywood releases in India in 2016 after Airlift. This feat is commendable as the film only had a Digital cinemas release.

DMK promises smart phones and jobs abroad in manifesto

Targeting the younger generation, the DMK manifesto released on Sunday promised waiver of education loans, tablets or laptops bundled with 3G/4G internet connection and 10GB per month download option for 16 lakh students and smart phones for poor families.

Explaining the reason behind providing smart phones, the manifesto said only through the gadgets people could download the application to know about the various welfare schemes and apply for them.

The DMK government would make arrangements to teach English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, Japanese and Russian in colleges and universities as per the choice of students to enhance employment opportunities abroad. 

Drought brings Flamingoes to freshwater Vidharba

In what is a rare instance, a large number of flamingos have been sighted in freshwater bodies in Yavatmal district in Vidharba. These birds are otherwise found in coastal areas or in places that have brackish water bodies.

Experts say that these migratory birds may be flying into the region because of drought in vast tracts of Maharashtra, which has led to depleted water levels in the water bodies usually frequented by them. This is not a mere migration stopover. They are suspected to be exploring the water body for the algae and are likely to stay for around one and a half months.

New Study indicates shooting stars delivered sugar of life to earth

Astrobiologists have found that ribose, a sugar needed to make RNA, may be one of many molecular building blocks of life that began in space and ended up on Earth as a result of strikes by comets or meteors.

Scientists at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France have carried out a laboratory experiment that mimicked the conditions of the very early solar system, a disk-shaped cloud that formed the comets and planets.

The experiment resulted in the formation of a large variety of organic compounds, including ribose and other sugar molecules, suggesting that these molecular building blocks of life could have formed when similar ices condense around dust grains and comets, close to a young star.

The sugar ribose is the principal constituent of RNA, a single-strand molecule that can also encode information like DNA and is hypothesized to have been used by early life to pass on genetic information, instead of DNA.

Endangered Olive Ridleys likely to skip mass nesting due to heatwave

Due to the ongoing massive heat wave, rise in temperature and shrinking of the beach Olive Ridley sea turtles are likely to skip from mass nesting this time.

Wildlife authorities of Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS) have launched an exercise to conserve the endangered Olive Ridley turtles. According to the authorities, 139 artificial nests have been arranged in the three rookeries set up at Sangameswaram, lighthouse area, and Jinkapalem of Nagayalanka mandal as part of the in situ conservation method since mass nesting of the Olive Ridley turtles may not happen this year.

New mosquito trap that can help fight Zika spread

A team of researchers has come up with a new mosquito trap that could be used to help slow the spread of the Zika virus around the globe. Developed by Argentinian researchers from the Centro de Investigaciones de Plagas e Insecticidas, the trap can be used to effectively monitor and control the Aedes aegypti mosquito - the primary transmitter of Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever. The plastic ovitrap is a small cup made of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) that has been infused with the larvicide pyriproxyfen. When the cup - which serves as an attractive egg-laying location for the female aedes aegypti mosquito to lay eggs - is filled with water, the larvicide is immediately released from the plastic.