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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Ready for an emergency

Six minutes to safety

The implications of the tragedy of the Kumbhakonam school fire have struck further than home. St Xavier’s Institute in Mumbai, for example, has organised test fire drills to train its students and teachers in the conduct required of them in the event of a real fire. It goes like this. A distress signal is sent out across the school building. The teachers immediately go into action, since the fire has apparently broken out in a laboratory on the second floor. Boys are efficiently ushered out, sticking to the wide staircases and never breaking the queue. Around 40 teachers manage to take over 800 students to safety in six-odd minutes. And there isn’t a hint of panic in the exercise. All schools, take note.

Fill it, shut it, forget it

Fasten your seat belts, everyone. There may come a time when you will not have to worry about how much gas your car is burning. And all thanks to a new Australian engine which runs on, well, nothing but compressed air! It’s a simple mechanism really. The air is blown through a rotor which drives the motor — no fumes, smoke or pollution cerificates. And it doesn’t have to be recharged for hours like battery-driven cars. But not everyone’s impressed. Some researchers feel that the vehicle is far less efficient than fuel-driven cars, though tests show it can reach upto 50 kmph on flat surfaces. But wait before you dash out for a test drive. The engine is still being tested in garden buggies on lawns in Melbourne.

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