Batik Dye Causes Blood-Red Flood In Indonesia

Residents wade through floodwaters dyed red from the waste of a batik factory, a traditional textile product, in Pekalongan, central Java on February 6, 2021. (Photo by SHAKA / AFP)

 

An Indonesian village was inundated by crimson-coloured water after flooding hit a fabric dyeing centre in central Java, sparking a social media frenzy.

Residents of Jenggot, near the town of Pekalongan, were seen wading through blood-red water on Saturday and many shared images of the rare phenomenon online.

Officials later confirmed the unique colour came from harmless fabric dye used by several batik factories in the area.

Pekalongan itself is well known for its batik textiles industry, with many cottage industries flourishing across the town.

“They did not dump the dye on purpose, but several home industries were flooded and the dye packages were carried away by the water”, local disaster agency official Dimas Arga Yudha told AFP Sunday, adding that the batik dye was not toxic or dangerous.

READ ALSO: Telemedicine Takes Off In Germany During Pandemic

Local officials deployed pumps to drain the flooded area it was cleared in less than an hour.

Floods are very common across the Indonesian archipelago, especially during the rainy season.

In January at least 21 people died and more than 60,000 were evacuated after a series of major floods hit South Kalimantan.

Indonesia Passes One Million COVID-19 Cases

Health officials observe health protocols at an emergency installation at a hospital in Surabaya, East Java, on May 29, 2020, amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Juni Kriswanto / AFP)

 

Indonesia passed more than one million Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, as the archipelago launches one of the world’s biggest vaccine drives to clamp down on a soaring infection rate.

The Southeast Asian nation of nearly 270 million has recorded 1,012,350 virus cases and almost 29,000 deaths, according to official data. But low testing rates mean the crisis is believed to be much bigger than those figures suggest.

Some hospitals are on the brink of collapse as they are overwhelmed with patients in one of Asia’s worst-hit nations, public health experts warn.

“I think we hit one million cases of Covid-19 a long time ago,” said Pandu Riono, a University of Indonesia epidemiologist.

“We are still climbing a mountain and we don’t even know where the peak is. This is a never-ending climb.”

There are reports of patients being unable to access intensive care units and isolation rooms due to high demand — a shortage underscored by an East Java city’s move to outfit a train carriage to accommodate the sick.

READ ALSO: UK Unemployment Hits 5.0% On COVID-19 Fallout

The virus has killed more than 600 doctors, nurses and other medical workers, many outfitted with limited protection equipment, according to independent researchers.

“Hospitals are already collapsing,” Riono said, adding that the government had “no management, no plan, no priorities, just trial and error”.

Indonesia’s government has been widely criticised for initially downplaying the pandemic and, later, for lacking a coherent crisis strategy.

The country of some 17,000 islands is now rolling out a huge vaccination drive with front-line workers and other high-risk groups among the first to get the jab, produced by China’s Sinovac.

Officials had earlier said they would focus on inoculating the 18-59 year old working population instead of prioritising the elderly, like many countries are doing.

But the health ministry later said some 25 million seniors would be targeted after doctors and other front-line workers if testing shows the Sinovac jab is safe for older people.

This month, Indonesian President Joko Widodo received the country’s first Covid-19 jab on live television along with his health minister, several senior officials, as well as business and religious leaders.

Tests in hard-hit Brazil showed the Sinovac jab was highly effective in staving off moderate to serious virus cases. But overall, it was only about 50 percent effective in preventing patients from contracting the disease.

Muslim-majority Indonesia’s top religious body also approved the vaccine as halal — meaning permissible under Islam — in a move that could help convince wary citizens.

Previous vaccination drives have been met with resistance by some segments of the country’s huge population, the world’s fourth-largest.

Indonesia is aiming to inoculate nearly 182 million people over the next 15 months.

The country has also signed deals for about 330 million vaccine doses from a string of pharmaceutical companies including AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Chinese suppliers.

Families Of Indonesia Jet Crash Victims Hold Memorial At Sea

Indonesian Navy divers hold wreckage from Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 during a search and rescue operation at sea near Lancang island on January 10, 2021, after the Boeing 737-500 crashed shortly after taking off from Jakarta airport on January 9. (Photo Credit: AFP)

 

Relatives of 62 people killed when an Indonesian passenger jet slammed into the sea scattered flowers at the crash site Friday, as investigators look for clues to why the plane dropped from the sky minutes after takeoff.

The memorial came as the search for human remains and wreckage ended two weeks after the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 plunged roughly 10,000 feet (3,000 metres) in less than a minute before crashing into waters off Jakarta.

However, the hunt continues for a still-missing cockpit voice recorder, as investigators pore over details from a retrieved flight data recorder — so-called black boxes that could be critical to the probe.

 

Divers bringing up bags filled with debris and body parts to a search and rescue boat from Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 off the coast north of Jakarta on January 11, 2021, during search operations off the coast for the Boeing 737-500 which crashed into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff on January 9. (Photo by Demy Sanjaya / AFP)

 

 

Maintenance logs pointed to an issue with the plane’s autothrottle, which controls engine power, authorities said, but it was not clear what role — if any — the apparent malfunction played.

On Friday, dozens of relatives tossed red petals from the deck of a navy ship, some overcome with emotion.

“When I cast the flowers I could see my sister’s face on the surface of the water,” said Heri Purnomo, whose older sibling Agus Minardi and her husband were on the flight.

“I burst into tears… It was a very sad moment.”

Jefferson Irwin Jauwena, the airline’s president director, said he was “devastated” by the accident which claimed 12 crew lives.

“We also feel sad and lost,” he said.

 

Relatives of the passengers wait for news at the Supadio airport in Pontianak, on Indonesia’s Borneo island, on January 9, 2021. © Louis Anderson, AFP

 

So far, 47 of the 62 victims have been identified through fingerprints and DNA matches to living family.

But Bety Saprianti, 33, who lost five relatives, is waiting for her aunt to be officially identified.

“We did not attend the ceremony today. None of our family joined — it was too painful,” she said.

“Our only hope now is (the last) of our relatives is identified soon.”

The 26-year-old plane crashed just four minutes after setting off from Jakarta, bound for Pontianak city on Borneo island, a 90-minute flight away.

Authorities said the crew did not declare an emergency or report technical problems with the aircraft before its dive, and that it was probably intact when it hit the water — citing a relatively small area where the wreckage was scattered.

The crash probe is likely to take months, but a preliminary report is expected next month.

Indonesia Crash: Search For Black Boxes Continues

Navy divers bring back bags of debris they collected to the search and rescue ship off the northern coast of Jakarta on January 12, 2021, during recovery operations for Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 which crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta on January 9 with 62 people onboard. Azwar Ipank / AFP
Navy divers bring back bags of debris they collected to the search and rescue ship off the northern coast of Jakarta on January 12, 2021, during recovery operations for Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 which crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta on January 9 with 62 people onboard. Azwar Ipank / AFP

 

Indonesian divers returned Tuesday to a wreckage-littered seabed off Jakarta in their hunt for the black boxes that will likely be key to unlocking the mystery of why a passenger jet carrying 62 people fell from the sky.

Some 3,600 personnel are taking part in the recovery effort, assisted by dozens of boats and helicopters flying over small islands off the capital’s coast.

Underwater images from Indonesia’s navy showed divers plumbing the murky depths as they combed through twisted wreckage from the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500, which plunged about 10,000 feet (3,000 metres) in less than a minute before slamming into the Java Sea Saturday.

Authorities have so far been unable to explain why the 26-year-old plane crashed just four minutes after takeoff.

READ ALSO: Indonesia Says Black Box Recorders From Crashed Plane Located

But they say they have narrowed down the location of the black boxes to a 90 square-metre area after picking up signals from the devices, which record information about the speed, altitude and direction of the plane as well as flight crew conversations.

Black box data helps explain nearly 90 percent of all crashes, according to aviation experts.

But the boxes could be hidden under layers of mud or plane wreckage in waters about 23 metres (75 feet) deep, and divers have to grapple with a strong current and poor weather.

“They’ve got to go through garbage and other debris (on the seafloor) and the mud and visibility are also a challenge,” Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for Indonesia’s search-and-rescue agency, said Tuesday.

The agency deployed a remotely operated vehicle to assist the divers.

‘Hoping for a miracle’

Scores of body bags filled with human remains were being taken to a police morgue where forensic investigators hope to identify victims by matching fingerprints or DNA with distraught relatives — some held out hope of survivors.

“We haven’t accepted it yet,” Inda Gunawan said of his brother Didik Gunardi who was on the doomed Saturday flight.

“Our family is still hoping for a miracle that he is still alive.”

Authorities have identified flight attendant Okky Bisma, 29, as the first confirmed victim after matching fingerprints from a retrieved hand to those in a government identity database.

“Rest in peace up there darling and wait for me… in heaven,” Okky Bisma’s wife Aldha Refa wrote on Instagram.

There were 10 children among the passengers on the half-full plane, which had experienced pilots at the controls as it left Jakarta bound for Pontianak city on Borneo island on a 90-minute flight.

A transport safety agency investigator has said the crew did not declare an emergency or report technical problems with the plane before its dive, and that the 737 was likely intact when it hit the water.

Search-and-rescue agency chief Soerjanto Tjahjono echoed that view Tuesday, pointing to the relatively small area where debris was scattered.

“The size is consistent with the assumption that the plane didn’t explode before hitting the water,” he added.

“The damage seen on the retrieved fan blade also shows that the engine was still working” at the time of the crash.

The crash probe was likely to take months, but a preliminary report was expected in 30 days.

Aviation analysts said flight-tracking data showed the plane sharply deviated from its intended course before it went into a steep dive.

Plagued by safety concerns

Sriwijaya Air, which flies to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, has had safety incidents including runway overruns.

But it has not had a fatal crash since starting operations in 2003.

Its CEO has said the jet, which was previously flown by US-based Continental Airlines and United Airlines, was in fit condition.

Indonesia’s fast-growing aviation sector has long been plagued by safety concerns, and its airlines were once banned from US and European airspace.

In October 2018, 189 people were killed when a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX jet crashed near Jakarta.

That accident — and another in Ethiopia — led to the grounding of the 737 MAX worldwide.

The 737 that went down Saturday was first produced decades ago and was not a MAX variant.

 

AFP

Indonesia’s Deadliest Air Crashes

 

 

The crash of a Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 about four minutes after it took off from Jakarta Saturday is the latest in a series of air accidents to rock Indonesia.

The Southeast Asian archipelago relies heavily on air transport to connect its thousands of islands but has suffered a string of deadly plane crashes in recent years.

The aviation sector is expanding fast as its economy booms but there are concerns airlines are struggling to find enough well-trained personnel to keep up with the rapid growth.

Once banned from European airspace over safety fears, the EU removed all Indonesian airlines from its safety blacklist in 2018 following improvements.

Here are the worst aviation disasters in the nation’s history:

Northern Sumatra

The worst disaster in Indonesia’s aviation history left 234 dead in 1997. An Airbus A-300B4 operated by national carrier Garuda Indonesia crashed in a smog-shrouded ravine in North Sumatra, just short of Medan’s airport.

Lion Air

A Boeing 737 MAX 8 from budget airline Lion Air crashes off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018, killing 189 passengers and crew members.

Investigators cite problems with the plane’s anti-stall system as one of the contributing factors.

Java Sea

In 2014, an AirAsia plane plunged into the Java Sea during stormy weather, killing 162 people. The plane was flying from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

Medan disaster

A Mandala Airlines domestic flight crashed shortly after take-off in 2005 into a densely populated suburb in Medan, a city of two million on the island of Sumatra, killing at least 150 including passengers, crew and people on the ground.

Military families

In June 2015 an Indonesian military plane crashed shortly after takeoff, also coming down in a residential area in Medan, killing around 122 people on board, many of them servicemen and women and their families. Around 20 people were also killed on the ground and several housing blocks torn apart.

Air Force fire

In 1991, an Air Force plane crashed in East Jakarta minutes after take off when an engine caught fire, killing 135 people according to reports. Those who died included 121 airmen, 12 crew and two people on the ground. One passenger survived.

River crash

In 1997, a Silk Air flight crashed into a river near the Indonesian city of Palembang while on its way to Singapore from Jakarta. All 104 passengers and crew were killed in what was investigated as a possible pilot murder-suicide.

New Year’s Day crash

An Adam Air plane plunged into the sea off Sulawesi island on New Year’s Day 2007, killing all 102 people on board. The airline was later banned from flying. Indonesian authorities said the pilots lost control after becoming preoccupied with malfunctioning navigational equipment.

Indonesia Says Black Box Recorders From Crashed Plane Located

Navy sailors recover a piece of wreckage (bottom C, in red) during recovery operations near Lancang Island on January 10, 2021, following the January 9 crash of Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 into the Java Sea following takeoff. (Photo by ADEK BERRY / AFP)

 

Authorities have pinpointed the location of two black boxes from a crashed Indonesian jet, they said Sunday, referring to cockpit voice and flight data recorders that could help explain why the aircraft went down with 62 people aboard.

The announcement came as divers pulled body parts, wreckage and clothing from waters off Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.

“We have located the position of the black boxes, both of them,” said Soerjanto Tjahjanto, head of Indonesia’s transport safety agency.

“Divers will start looking for them now and hopefully it won’t be long before we get them.”

The Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 went into a steep dive about four minutes after it left Soekarno-Hatta international airport in Jakarta on Saturday afternoon.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo expressed his “deep condolences”, and called on citizens to “pray together so that victims can be found”.

But the frantic search involving helicopters and a flotilla of warships appeared to offer no hope of finding any survivors.

The search and rescue agency said it had so far collected five body bags with human remains as well as debris from the crash site in the Java Sea.

A piece of child’s clothing, a broken tyre and wheel, life jackets and wreckage from the plane’s body were found, according to authorities and AFP reporters on the scene.

Among the passengers was Beben Sofian, 59, and her husband Dan Razanah, 58.

“They took a selfie and sent it to their kids before taking off,” the couple’s nephew Hendra told AFP.

All 62 people on board, passengers and crew, were Indonesian, authorities said. The count included 10 children.

– ‘Torn into pieces’ –

Distraught relatives waited nervously for news at the airport in Pontianak, the city on Indonesia’s section of Borneo island which had been flight SJ182’s destination, about 90 minutes flying time over the Java Sea.

“I have four family members on the flight — my wife and three children,” Yaman Zai said on Saturday evening as he sobbed.

“(My wife) sent me a picture of the baby today… How could my heart not be torn into pieces?”

Data from FlightRadar24 indicated that the airliner reached an altitude of nearly 11,000 feet (3,350 metres) before dropping suddenly to 250 feet. It then lost contact with air traffic control.

The transport minister said Saturday that the jet appeared to deviate from its intended course just before it disappeared from radar.

Poor weather, pilot error or a technical problem with the plane were potential factors, said Jakarta-based aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman.

“But it’s way too early to conclude anything,” he added.

“After the black box is found we can start putting the puzzle together.”

Sriwijaya Air, which operates flights to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, has said only that it was investigating the loss of contact.

It did not immediately comment when contacted by AFP again on Sunday.

– Reputation for poor safety –

In October 2018, 189 people were killed when a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX jet crashed near Jakarta.

That crash — and another in Ethiopia — saw Boeing hit with $2.5 billion in fines over claims it defrauded regulators overseeing the 737 MAX model, which was grounded worldwide following the two deadly crashes.

The 26-year-old 737 that went down Saturday was not a MAX variant.

“Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families,” Boeing said in a statement, adding that it was in contact with the airline.

Indonesia’s aviation sector has long had a reputation for poor safety, and its airlines were once banned from entering US and European airspace.

In 2014, an AirAsia plane headed from Surabaya to Singapore crashed with the loss of 162 lives.

Domestic investigators’ final report on that crash said major factors included a chronically faulty component in a rudder control system, poor maintenance, and the pilots’ inadequate response.

A year later, in 2015, more than 140 people, including scores on the ground, were killed when a military plane crashed shortly after take-off in Medan on Sumatra island.

Officials Find Body Parts At Indonesian Plane Crash Site

 

Indonesian investigators said Sunday they found body parts off the coast of the capital Jakarta where a budget airline plane with 62 people on board crashed shortly after takeoff.

“As of this morning, we’ve received two (body) bags, one with passenger belongings and the other with body parts,” Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus told Metro TV.

Signal from downed plane in Java Sea

Meanwhile, Indonesian rescuers said Sunday they had detected a signal from a Boeing passenger plane that crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff with 62 people on board.

A military vessel “has found the signal from (Sriwijaya Air) SJ182” and divers had recovered parts of the plane from around 23 metres (75 feet) below the water’s surface, the transport ministry said in a statement, citing Indonesia’s military chief Hadi Tjahjanto.

The ministry did not specify if the signal was detected from the downed plane’s black box.

Indonesia Landslides Kill At Least 11, Scores Missing

Rescuers carry the body of a victim after two landslides killed at least 11 people, including a six-year-old boy, with scores more missing in Sumedang, West Java province on January 10, 2021. Timur Matahari / AFP

 

At least 11 people were killed, including a six-year-old boy, and scores more were missing after deadly landslides hit Indonesia’s West Java province, authorities said Sunday.

Torrential rains triggered the disaster on Saturday evening in the town of Sumedang, where a second landslide buried residents and a rescue team that had been searching for the initial victims, said Bandung rescue agency spokeswoman Seni Wulandari.

“We’re still documenting how many are missing after the second landslide because there were many people who joined the original rescue effort,” she said.

At least one survivor was seriously injured, while 11 people were confirmed dead, Wulandari said.

Fatal landslides and flash floods are common across the Indonesian archipelago, where seasonal downpours are frequent and relentless.

In September last year, at least 11 people were killed in landslides on Borneo island while a few months earlier, landslides in Sulawesi killed dozens.

Indonesia’s disaster agency has estimated that 125 million Indonesians — nearly half the country’s population — live in areas at risk of landslides.

Missing Indonesia Plane Suspected To Have Crashed With 62 Passengers, Crew On Board

This file photo taken over Tangerang on March 18, 2013 shows a Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-300 aircraft, a similar model to the Indonesian airline's Boeing 737-500 operating as flight SJY182 that lost contact during a flight from Jakarta to Pontianak on January 9, 2021. Adek BERRY / AFP
This file photo taken over Tangerang on March 18, 2013 shows a Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-300 aircraft, a similar model to the Indonesian airline’s Boeing 737-500 operating as flight SJY182 that lost contact during a flight from Jakarta to Pontianak on January 9, 2021. Adek BERRY / AFP

 

An Indonesian budget airline plane with 62 people on board is suspected to have crashed into the sea shortly after the Boeing 737 took off from Jakarta airport on Saturday, authorities said.

Flight tracking data showed the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 plunged into a steep dive about four minutes after it left Soekarno-Hatta international airport.

Sixty-two passengers and crew were on board, including 10 children, the nation’s transport minister, Budi Karya Sumadi, told reporters.

The suspected crash site is near tourist islands just off the coast of Indonesia’s sprawling capital.

Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 was bound for Pontianak on Indonesia’s section of Borneo island, about 90 minutes flying time over the Java Sea.

Distraught relatives waited nervously for news at the city’s airport.

“I have four family members on the flight — my wife and my three children,” Yaman Zai said as he sobbed.

Relatives of passengers on board missing Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 wait for news at the Supadio airport in Pontianak on January 9, 2021, after contact with the aircraft was lost shortly after take-off from Jakarta.  Louis ANDERSON / AFP
Relatives of passengers on board missing Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 wait for news at the Supadio airport in Pontianak on January 9, 2021, after contact with the aircraft was lost shortly after take-off from Jakarta. Louis ANDERSON / AFP

 

“(My wife) sent me a picture of the baby today…How could my heart not be torn into pieces?”

The plane took off on Saturday afternoon and a search and rescue operation began with no official results available on Saturday night.

“We deployed our team, boats and sea riders to the location suspected to be where it went down after losing contact,” Bambang Suryo Aji, a senior official at the search-and-rescue agency, told reporters after nightfall.

Sudden plunge

Data from FlightRadar24 said the plane reached an altitude of nearly 11,000 feet (3,350 metres) before dropping suddenly to 250 feet. It then lost contact with air traffic control.

“Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182 lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta,” the tracking agency said on its official Twitter account.

Broadcaster Kompas TV quoted local fishermen as saying they had found debris near islands just off the coast of the capital Jakarta, but it could not be immediately confirmed as having belonged to the missing jet.

Authorities and the airline gave no immediate indication as to why the plane suddenly went down.

Marines load supplies and equipment on a ship for a search and rescue operation for the Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 in Jakarta on January 9, 2021, as the aircraft is suspected to have crashed into the sea. Dany Krisnadhi / AFP
Marines load supplies and equipment on a ship for a search and rescue operation for the Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 in Jakarta on January 9, 2021, as the aircraft is suspected to have crashed into the sea. Dany Krisnadhi / AFP

 

The budget airline, which has about 19 Boeing jets that fly to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, said only that it was investigating the loss of contact.

In October 2018, 189 people were killed when a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX jet slammed into the Java Sea about 12 minutes after take-off from Jakarta on a routine one-hour flight.

That crash — and a subsequent fatal flight in Ethiopia — saw Boeing hit with $2.5 billion in fines over claims it defrauded regulators overseeing the 737 MAX model, which was grounded worldwide following the two deadly crashes.

The Boeing jet thought to have crashed Saturday is not a MAX model.

“We are aware of media reports from Jakarta, and are closely monitoring the situation,” the US-based planemaker said in a statement.

“We are working to gather more information.”

Indonesia’s aviation sector has long suffered from a reputation for poor safety, and its airlines were once banned from entering US and European airspace.

In 2014, an AirAsia plane crashed with the loss of 162 lives.

Domestic investigators’ final report on the AirAsia crash showed a chronically faulty component in a rudder control system, poor maintenance and the pilots’ inadequate response were major factors in what was supposed to be a routine flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

A year later, in 2015, more than 140 people, including people on the ground, were killed when a military plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Medan on Sumatra island.

 

AFP

Indonesia Plane Missing Shortly After Take-Off

 This file photo taken over Tangerang on March 18, 2013 shows a Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-300 aircraft, a similar model to the Indonesian airline's Boeing 737-500 operating as flight SJY182 that lost contact during a flight from Jakarta to Pontianak on January 9, 2021. Adek BERRY / AFP
This file photo taken over Tangerang on March 18, 2013 shows a Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-300 aircraft, a similar model to the Indonesian airline’s Boeing 737-500 operating as flight SJY182 that lost contact during a flight from Jakarta to Pontianak on January 9, 2021. Adek BERRY / AFP

 

Indonesia’s Sriwijaya Air lost contact with one of its Boeing 737 passenger planes shortly after take-off from the capital Jakarta, the transport ministry said Saturday.

“A Sriwijaya (Air) plane from Jakarta to Pontianak (on Borneo island) with call sign SJY182 has lost contact,” said ministry spokesman Adita Irawati.

“It last made contact at 2:40 pm (0740 GMT).”

It was unclear how many passengers and crew were aboard the Boeing 737-500, which has a capacity of about 130, when it took off from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta international airport.

The usual flight time is about 90-minutes.

The budget airline said only it was investigating the incident.

Indonesia’s search and rescue agency and the National Transportation Safety Commission were also investigating, Irawati said.

In October 2018, 189 people were killed when a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX jet slammed into the Java Sea about 12 minutes after take-off from Jakarta on a routine one-hour flight.

That crash — and a subsequent fatal flight in Ethiopia — saw Boeing hit with $2.5 billion in fines over claims it defrauded regulators overseeing the 737 MAX model, which was grounded worldwide following the two deadly crashes.

 

AFP

Indonesia Holds Nationwide Poll Despite COVID-19 Warnings

 

Bobby Nasution (C), son-in-law of Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, and his wife Kahiyang Ayu (L) cast their votes in Medan on December 9, 2020, as Indonesia holds nationwide elections with more than 100 million voters expected to cast their ballot despite warnings it could spark a COVID-19 disaster.
Albert Ivan Damanik / AFP

 

Indonesia held nationwide regional elections Wednesday with more than 100 million voters eligible to cast a ballot, despite warnings the poll would worsen the nation’s Covid-19 crisis.

The archipelago of nearly 270 million — the world’s third-biggest democracy and fourth most populous nation — delayed the vote originally set for September as it struggled to contain soaring infection rates.

From the capital, Jakarta to the holiday island of Bali, polling station staff in full protective gear enforced social distancing and took voters’ temperatures before polls closed at 1:00 pm local time (0600 GMT).

Abdul Rahman Wahab, 24, admitted he was nervous about turning up to vote on Sulawesi island.

“Health is my priority for sure, but voting is also an important part of our life in a democratic country,” he said.

Islamist parties are looking to score big gains in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation as they ride a tide of rising religious conservatism.

In the second-biggest city, Surabaya workers followed the tradition of donning superhero costumes, dressing as Spiderman to lure voters in.

Others were tasked with taking ballot boxes into hospitals so that Covid patients could vote from their sickbeds.

“All polling stations were disinfected,” said Suprianto, head of a polling station committee in Jakarta’s Ciputat district, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

“We made spaces as wide as possible to allow for social distancing. Voters were also required to wear masks. If you don’t, then you won’t be allowed in the polling station.”

Voter Nur Oktaviani said the precautions had put her at ease.

“I’m not worried,” the 24-year-old told AFP.

“Here, they’re complying with health protocols.”

 

READ ALSO: There Is ‘Still A Chance’ For Brexit Deal, Says Merkel

– ‘High risk’ –

Hundreds of hopefuls — including President Joko Widodo’s eldest son — are vying for 270 positions, including regional governors, district heads, and mayors.

Official results are not expected for several weeks.

At least four election candidates have died so far, according to independent research group Laporcovid, and more than 1,000 election agency staff were infected ahead of voting day.

Over 580,000 Indonesians have contracted the illness while the death toll stands at 18,000.

But the true scale of the crisis is widely believed to be much bigger, as testing rates are low.

Infections could skyrocket above one million after polling day, warned Hermawan Saputra at the Indonesian Public Health Experts’ Association.

“The most worrying thing is that it won’t be just young, healthy people casting their votes, but also the elderly, pregnant women and sick people — they’re all at high risk,” he said.

“The public service announcements and health protocols aren’t enough. Health is being trumped by political demands and that’s very concerning. It’s not worth it.”

– Dynastic ambitions –

In the midst of the pandemic, voters had little chance to interact with candidates or understand their platforms, dealing a blow to a democracy that rose from the ashes of the Suharto dictatorship two decades ago.

“Holding regional elections during the pandemic is highly risky and costs a lot of money,” said Titi Anggraini, an analyst at the Association for Elections and Democracy.

“It’s such a waste.”

Widodo’s son Gibran Rakabuming Raka, 33, is running for mayor of Solo city in Central Java, where his father, a former furniture seller better known as Jokowi, started in politics.

Jokowi’s son-in-law is also vying for office, stirring questions about whether Indonesia’s leader is trying to create a political dynasty more than a year into his second and final term.

Vice-president Ma’ruf Amin’s daughter and defense minister Prabowo Subianto’s niece are also running for elected positions

-AFP

Indonesia Receives Over One Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses From China

This file photo taken on April 29, 2020 shows an engineer looking at monkey kidney cells as he makes a test on an experimental vaccine for the Covid-19 coronavirus inside the Cells Culture Room laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing. Nicolas ASFOURI / AFP
This file photo taken on April 29, 2020 shows an engineer looking at monkey kidney cells as he makes a test on an experimental vaccine for the Covid-19 coronavirus inside the Cells Culture Room laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing. Nicolas ASFOURI / AFP

 

Indonesia has received 1.2 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine made by China’s Sinovac, officials said, as the world’s fourth most populous nation struggles to get soaring case rates under control.

The doses arrived in Jakarta late Sunday on a flight from Beijing, with another 1.8 million expected to be sent again next month.

Although Chinese regulators have yet to clear any of country’s vaccines for mass distribution, they have approved some advanced candidates for emergency use.

On Monday, Indonesia’s Covid-19 response team chief Airlangga Hartarto said the first batch of doses will be examined by the food and drug agency, with plans to distribute them to medical workers and other high-risk groups.

The country’s top Muslim clerical body, the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI), will also check the first consignment, officials said — to ensure it meets halal requirements in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

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Late Sunday, President Joko Widodo welcomed the delivery.

“We are grateful that the vaccine is now available and we can immediately prevent the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak,” he said.

“(But) I have to reiterate, first, that all procedures must be followed properly to ensure public health and safety, and the efficacy of the vaccine,” he added.

In August, Indonesia launched human trials of the Sinovac-made jab, with around 1,600 volunteers taking part in the six-month study.

The Indonesian government has paid some 637 billion rupiah ($45 million) for the three million Sinovac doses. Another 100,000 more are set to be delivered by another Chinese firm, CanSino.

China has promised to make its vaccines available as a “global public good” as it seeks to counter global criticism for its early handling of the pandemic.

“We expect that multilateral vaccines [from other countries] will also start to arrive gradually in 2021,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Monday.

Indonesia has been in talks with other pharmaceutical firms, including UK-based AstraZeneca.

The country is one of the Asian nations worst hit by the pandemic, with Covid-19 infections topping 575,000, and more than 17,000 deaths.

However, the true scale of the crisis is widely believed to be much bigger, as the country has one of the world’s lowest testing rates.

 

AFP