737 MAX: After 10 Months Of Crisis For Boeing, Questions Remain

 

 

Boeing is still far from seeing an end to its continuing crisis over the 737 MAX airplane. Ten months after two fatal crashes led to the grounding of the aerospace giant’s star passenger jet, many serious questions remain, including the date of its return to service.

David Calhoun, 62, a former top executive at General Electric, is to take charge of the aircraft manufacturer on Monday, after CEO Dennis Muilenburg was ousted in late December over what critics said was his catastrophic handling of the crisis.

– What exactly happened? –
On March 10, 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crashed southeast of Addis Ababa just minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 on board.

It was the second accident in five months for the model, which Boeing launched in May 2017 as a competitor for Airbus’s A320neo in the lucrative narrow-body aircraft segment.

The October 2018 crash in Indonesia of a Lion Air 737 MAX had claimed 189 lives.

On March 13 of last year, the United States and Canada became the last two countries to ground MAX planes. Thus began Boeing’s crisis.

When will the MAX fly again?

It’s hard to say. The most optimistic prediction is late February or early March, but some experts, including the respected Richard Aboulafia of the Virginia-based Teal group, speak of late April or early May.

United Airlines has ruled out flying the MAX before June.

Investigations by Indonesian and Ethiopian authorities raised questions about the plane’s automated flight control system known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System).

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered Boeing to provide a fix, which the company is working on.

But as a result of the crisis FAA has subjected the MAX, which was only partially inspected during its original flight certification, to microscopic scrutiny.

The agency at first detected a problem with the microprocessor that manages flight systems and then, more recently, a flaw in the electrical wiring.

Once Boeing has resolved all problems, the FAA should set a date for a test flight — the last major hurdle before the MAX is green-lighted to return to service.

Boeing has taken one major step in that direction: after long resisting having MAX pilots train on flight simulators rather than on computers — a longer and more costly option, but one demanded by European and Canadian regulators — Boeing has finally backed that course.

– Is Boeing still building and delivering the MAX? –
Boeing suspended MAX deliveries a few days after the planes were grounded. It had continued to produce the aircraft, but has built none since January 1.

From mid-March to the end of December, Boeing produced 400 MAX planes, bringing the total number built to 787. Of those, 387 were in service when orders to ground them went out.

The planes are parked at different Boeing sites in the US.

Is Boeing in financial trouble?

No. As of the end of September, the company had $10 billion in hand and about $20 billion in available funds, according to financial documents.

Besides passenger planes, Boeing builds military aircraft and equipment. It also has a space division.

Nevertheless, the costs linked to the MAX crisis have continued to mount. They had already reached $9.2 billion by the end of September and should soar as Boeing deals with demands for damages and compensation from airline companies, aircraft-leasing firms, parts suppliers and victims’ families.

To cover future expenses, the company expects to turn to the financial markets to borrow up to $5 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

– What about Boeing employees?? –
The company so far has ruled out any firings or layoffs, which could provoke a political outcry in this US election year.

Boeing has already shifted thousands of workers to other programs — building its 767, 787 and 777/777X models — and has promised to find jobs for others.

– How are suppliers affected? –
The consequences vary. Engine builders like General Electric and Safran Aircraft Engines, through their CFM joint venture, are partially spared since they also build engines for Airbus.

Along with other smaller American suppliers, they will profit from Airbus’s surprise decision to ramp up production of the A320 in the southern US city of Mobile, Alabama.

But the Spirit AeroSystems group, which provides fuselages and other parts for the MAX, has been hard hit; the 737 program represents more than half its turnover. The company plans to cut 16 percent of its workforce — around 2,800 employees — and has not ruled out further cuts.

– Is Airbus profiting as Boeing struggles? –
Airbus received orders for 768 planes in 2019 and delivered 863. Boeing, which has yet to publish its full-year figures, had delivered 345 as of the end of November, while 84 orders were lost.

Airbus also gained ground in the important middle of the market sector with its launch of the A321XLR, which will give air carriers the ability to open new long-haul routes between secondary cities using a narrow-body craft that is less expensive, easier to fill and thus more profitable.

The first orders are already pouring in, notably from United Airlines, which ordered 50 of the new aircraft in December.

Boeing is banking on its own NMA (New Midsize Airplane), built to carry from 220 to 270 passengers on routes up to 5,400 miles (8,700 kilometers). But progress has been slow, and it is unclear, given the severe challenges over the MAX program, whether the NMA will be rolled out this year as planned. (Boeing has not decided to launch the NMA yet. It promised to make a decision this year.)

Indonesia Deploys Fighter Jets, Warships To Disputed Waters In China Spat

 

 

Indonesia has deployed fighter jets and warships to patrol islands near the disputed South China Sea, the military said Wednesday, escalating tensions with Beijing after a diplomatic spat over “trespassing” Chinese vessels.

President Joko Widodo also headed Wednesday to the fishing-rich waters around the Natuna Islands, which border the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by China despite competing claims from other Southeast Asian nations including Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

The Indonesian military said it had deployed eight warships and four jet fighters ahead of Widodo’s visit in an apparent bid to assert its sovereignty over the region.

“I have said many times Natuna is our sovereign territory,” Widodo told reporters.

“There is nothing to be debated…I hope this is clear.”

A Chinese coast guard vessel was spotted in Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone Wednesday, the government said.

“We have deployed eight warships,” said Navy spokesman Fajar Tri Rohadi.

The air force said fighter jets had also been deployed.

“(But) our personnel have been told that we are not going to make provocations but rather protect our territory,” said Air Commodore Ronny Irianto Moningka.

China’s foreign ministry downplayed the incident and said there was “no dispute over territorial sovereignty” between Beijing and Jakarta — though the two have “overlapping claims for maritime rights” in the South China Sea.

Indonesia does not lay claim in the South China Sea but said it would not tolerate incursions by China — a key trading partner — into its nearby waters.

“We are willing to continue to properly handle differences with Indonesia,” said spokesman Geng Shuang at a press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.

“China and Indonesia have always maintained communication through diplomatic channels on this matter,” Geng said.

Indonesia’s move to send in warships follows the deployment on Friday of around 600 personnel from the navy, army and air force to Natuna as the military launched what it called a regular patrol to secure the area due to the presence of foreign vessels in Indonesian waters.

Jakarta said it would also send hundreds of fishermen to the area to keep an eye out for foreign vessels.

That followed Indonesia summoning the Chinese ambassador last week and lodging a “strong protest” over a Chinese coast guard vessel escorting Chinese fishing boats around the islands in mid-December.

Beijing responded that it has “historic rights” in the region and that fishing boats had been carrying out “legal and reasonable” activities.

Beijing lays claim to huge swathes of the South China Sea, where it is accused of building military installations and artificial islands — and ramming fishing vessels.

China claims the majority of the resource-rich waterway through the so-called nine-dash line, a vague delineation based on maps from the 1940s as the then Republic of China snapped up islands from Japanese control.

6.2-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Indonesia’s Northwest

 

A strong earthquake jolted Indonesia’s northwest on Tuesday, but no tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The 6.2 magnitude quake struck at a depth of 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) just off the coast of Simeulue island, west of Sumatra, according to the US Geological Survey.

Indonesia’s weather and geophysics bureau said there was no tsunami threat.

People panicked and ran outside their homes when the quake hit.

“We are now watching at the beach to monitor the movement of seawater,” Simeulue resident Ahmadi told AFP.

No casualties or infrastructure damage have been reported so far.

Indonesia suffers frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.

More than 2,200 people died and another 1,000 were declared missing in 2018 after a 7.5 magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami on Sulawesi island.

A 9.1 magnitude earthquake on Boxing Day in 2004 struck Aceh province, causing a tsunami that claimed the lives of more than 170,000 people in Indonesia alone.

AFP

Thousands In Shelters As Indonesia Flood Death Toll Hits 53

Rescuers help a sick woman cross the river to get medical assistance at the Sukarame village in Lebak, Banten province on January 3, 2020, after flooding triggered by heavy rain which started on New Year’s Eve hit the area. SAMMY / AFP

 

Indonesian rescue teams flew helicopters stuffed with food to remote flood-hit communities on Saturday as the death toll from the disaster jumped to 53 and fears grew about the possibility of more torrential rain.

Tens of thousands in Jakarta were still unable to return to their waterlogged homes after some of the deadliest flooding in years hit the enormous capital region, home to about 30 million.

In neighbouring Lebak, where half a dozen people died, police and military personnel dropped boxes of instant noodles and other supplies into remote communities inaccessible by road after bridges were destroyed.

“It’s tough to get supplies in there… and there are about a dozen places hit by landslides,” Banten police chief Tomsi Tohir told AFP.

“That is why we’re using helicopters although there aren’t any landing spots.”

Local health centre chief Suripto, who goes by one name, said injured residents were flowing into his clinic.

“Some of them were wounded after they were swept away by floods and hit with wood and rocks,” he said.

Around Jakarta, more than 170,000 people took refuge in shelters across the massive urban conglomeration after whole neighbourhoods were submerged.

Torrential rains that started on New Year’s Eve unleashed flash floods and landslides in the region and Lebak at the south end of Java island.

On Saturday, Indonesia’s disaster agency said the death toll had climbed to 53 with one person still missing.

“We’ve discovered more dead bodies,” said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo.

‘Trauma healing’ 

Jakarta shelters filled up with refugees, including infants, resting on thin mats as food and drinking water ran low.

Some had been reduced to using floodwater for cleaning.

“We’re cleaning ourselves in a nearby church but the timing has been limited since it uses an electric generator for power,” said Trima Kanti, 39, from one refuge in Jakarta’s western edges.

In hard-hit Bekasi, on the eastern outskirts of Jakarta, swampy streets were littered with debris and crushed cars lying on top of each other — with waterline marks reaching as high as the second floors of buildings.

On Friday, the government said would start cloud seeding to the west of the capital — inducing rain using chemicals sprayed from planes — to prevent approaching rainfall from pounding the region.

Waters had receded in many areas and power was being restored in hundreds of districts.

The health ministry has said it had deployed some 11,000 health workers and soldiers to distribute medicine, disinfectant hygiene kits and food in a bid to stave off outbreaks of Hepatitis A, mosquito-borne Dengue fever and other illnesses, including infections linked to contact with dead animals.

Visiting hard-hit Lebak, Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy said the government would help rebuild destroyed schools and construct temporary bridges, while offering assistance to victims.

“We’re also asking for NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to help with trauma healing,” Muhadjir told reporters on Saturday.

 Electrocution, drowning 

Around Jakarta, a family — including a four- and nine-year-old — died of suspected gas poisoning from a portable power generator, while an eight-year-old boy was killed in a landslide.

Others died from drowning or hypothermia, while one 16-year-old boy was electrocuted by a power line.

Jakarta is regularly hit by floods during the rainy season, which started in late November. But this week marked Jakarta’s deadliest flooding since 2013 when dozens were killed after the city was inundated by monsoon rains.

Urban planning experts said the disaster was partly due to record rainfall.

But Jakarta’s myriad infrastructure problems, including poor drainage and rampant overdevelopment, worsened the situation, they said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has announced a plan to move the country’s capital to Borneo island to take pressure off Jakarta, which suffers from some of the world’s worst traffic jams and is fast sinking due to excessive groundwater extraction.

AFP

Indonesia Flood: 43 Killed, Rescuers Search For Survivors

Young men wait under a concrete bridge looking to salvage valuable items carried by the currents in Jakarta on January 3, 2020, after flooding triggered by heavy rain which started on New Year’s Eve hit the area.  BAY ISMOYO / AFP

 

Indonesian rescuers mounted a desperate search on Friday for those missing after torrential rains unleashed flash floods and landslides, killing at least 43 people across the Jakarta region as authorities raced to prevent disease outbreaks.

Around a dozen people were still unaccounted for after record rains that started on New Year’s Eve pounded the capital and left swathes of the megalopolis — home to some 30 million — under water and thousands homeless.

Around 192,000 residents have been evacuated to temporary shelters, according to authorities, with many unable to return to waterlogged homes in neighbourhoods that have been turned into wastelands.

“We’re encouraging people whose houses are still inundated to go to a safer place,” said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo.

The agency said 43 people had been confirmed dead in Greater Jakarta and neighbouring Lebak regency in the south of Java island.

Waters had receded in many areas and power was being restored after being cut off in many districts.

In hard-hit Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta, swampy streets were littered with debris and crushed cars lying on top of each other — with waterline marks reaching as high as the second floors of buildings.

The government said Friday it would start cloud seeding to the west of the capital — inducing rain using chemicals sprayed from planes — to prevent approaching rainfall from pounding the region.

 ‘Everything’s gone’ 

Using inflatable boats to evacuate residents trapped in their homes, including children and seniors, rescuers said they were targeting the hardest-hit areas of the Muslim-majority nation’s capital on Friday.

Shelters filled up with refugees, including infants, resting on thin mats as food and drinking water ran low.

“It’s impossible for me to go back to my home,” said 72-year-old Lumongga Siregar.

“We have no clean water right now… and we’re hoping for more food because there isn’t much.”

Mother Dewi Puspitasari worried about her one-year-old daughter’s health.

“The blanket and mat I’ve got here aren’t thick enough for her and we’re scared she will get sick,” she told AFP.

As Indonesians gathered for Friday prayers, a call went out for city mosques to take in and help desperate refugees.

“Mosques also have a social function in addition to religious activities,” said Indonesian Mosque Council secretary general Imam Addaruquthni.

The health ministry deployed some 11,000 health workers and soldiers to distribute medicine, disinfectant hygiene kits and food in a bid to stave off outbreaks of Hepatitis A, mosquito-borne Dengue fever and other illnesses, including infections linked to contact with dead animals.

In hard-hit Lebak outside Jakarta, residents started the slow process of cleaning up their deluged homes.

“Everything’s gone,” said shop owner Aminah, who goes by one name.

“I left it all because I got scared at how high the water was getting.”

 ‘Phenomenally bad’ 

Around Jakarta, a family — including a four- and nine-year-old — died of suspected gas poisoning from a portable power generator, while an eight-year-old boy was killed in a landslide.

Others died from drowning or hypothermia, while one 16-year-old boy was electrocuted by a power line.

Jakarta is regularly hit by floods during the rainy season, which started in late November.

But this week’s disaster marked Jakarta’s worst flooding since 2013 when dozens were killed after the city was inundated by monsoon rains.

“This year’s flooding was phenomenally bad because of the extremely high rainfall,” said Yayat Supriatna, a Jakarta-based urban planning expert.

But Jakarta’s myriad infrastructure problems, including poor drainage and rampant overdevelopment, worsened the situation, he added.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has announced a plan to move the country’s capital to Borneo island to take pressure off Jakarta, which suffers from some of the world’s worst traffic jams and is fast sinking due to excessive groundwater extraction.

AFP

Indonesia Floods Leave Nearly 30 Dead, Several Missing

 

Villagers check the condition of a bridge destroyed by a flood at the Banjar Irigasi village in Lebak, Banten province on January 2, 2020, after flooding triggered by heavy rain hit the area. Indonesia’s disaster agency warned on January 2 of more deaths after torrential rains pounded the Jakarta region, triggering floods and landslides that killed at least 23 and left vast swaths of the megalopolis underwater.
SAMMY / AFP

 

Indonesia’s disaster agency warned Thursday of more deaths after torrential rains pounded the Jakarta region, triggering floods and landslides that killed at least 29 and left vast swaths of the megalopolis underwater.

Tens of thousands fled to temporary shelters across the capital region — home to some 30 million — with scores of houses damaged in the deadliest flooding in years, after torrential rains on New Year’s Eve.

Images showed waterlogged homes and cars covered in muddy floodwaters, while some people took to paddling in small rubber lifeboats or tyre inner-tubes to get around.

In Bekasi, on the outskirts of the city, receding waters revealed swampy streets littered with debris and crushed cars lying on top of each other — with waterline marks reaching as high as buildings’ second floors.

“I saw the water coming and it just kept getting higher and higher,” said Deddy Supriadi, after a local river overflowed on the first day of 2020.

“It swept away 40 or 50 cars that were parked right here,” he told AFP.

– Baby rescues –

Rescuers used inflatable boats to evacuate residents trapped in their homes, including children and seniors.

TV images showed the dramatic rescue of a baby saved by disaster personnel who waded through chin-deep water to the family’s home and carried the infant away to safety in a small plastic tub.

“We’ve been rescuing newborns, mothers who just gave birth and babies trapped in houses without food,” said Yusuf Latif, spokesman for the National Search and Rescue agency.

“In some places, the rescue operation was quite challenging and difficult. The water was deep with a strong current. Some alleyways were so narrow that it was hard for our inflatable boats to pass through,” he added.

Across the city, kids took the opportunity to swim in the floodwaters while some people grabbed fishing rods.

“I saw people were fishing here so I followed them,” said 28-year-old Agung Rosiadi.

“There were lots of fish before but I don’t know why they’re all gone now,” he added.

– ‘Without warning’ –

At least 26 people died in greater Jakarta, while three more were killed by flash floods in neighbouring Lebak regency in the south of Java island, according to the local disaster agency.

Police in Lebak said Thursday they were searching for as many as eight people who could still be missing.

“We hope the toll won’t keep going up,” Social Affairs Minister Juliari Peter Batubara told reporters earlier Thursday.

Around Jakarta, an eight-year-old boy killed in a landslide and an 82-year-old pensioner were among the confirmed victims.

Others died from drowning or hypothermia, while one 16-year-old boy was electrocuted by a power line.

“The floods hit without warning,” Munarsih, who goes by one name, said from her waterlogged neighbourhood in Jakarta’s western outskirts where dozens of families fled to safety.

“The water came very fast and it rose quickly. We couldn’t manage to get our stuff out, including my car,” she added.

– Monsoon rains –

Stories about animal rescues went viral online, including a dog chained to a fence that was plucked from certain death, while a drenched rat was filmed taking refuge on a floating plastic sandal.

On Wednesday, electricity was switched off in many Jakarta districts to prevent more electrocutions, with some train lines and one airport also shut. By Thursday, most service had returned to normal.

The disaster marked Jakarta’s worst flooding since 2013 when dozens were killed after the city was inundated by monsoon rains.

Jakarta is regularly hit by floods during Indonesia’s rainy season, which started in late November.

Authorities said Thursday that some 31,000 people had been evacuated, but that figure did not include residents in Jakarta’s satellite cities.

AFP

Nine Dead After Indonesian Capital Hit By New Year Flooding

 

 

Nine people died after Indonesia’s capital was hit by its deadliest flooding in years, authorities said Wednesday, as torrential rains on New Year’s Eve left vast swathes of the megalopolis submerged.

Electricity was switched off in hundreds of waterlogged neighbourhoods across greater Jakarta, home to about 30 million people, with some train lines and one of the city’s airports also shut.

A 16-year-old was electrocuted by a power line, while three more people died of hypothermia said Jakarta disaster management agency head Subejo.

“We’re hoping that the floodwaters will recede, but if the rain keeps up it’ll continue,” said the official, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

READ ALSO: Pope Slaps ‘Exuberant Admirer’ At Saint Peter’s Plaza

Among the victims was an elderly couple trapped inside their home in a district where floodwaters reached as high as four metres (13 feet) after a river burst its banks.

Another victim drowned while four people were killed after the Tuesday evening downpour triggered landslides in the city’s outskirts.

“We have shut down power (in many areas) to avoid more electrical shocks,” Ikhsan Asaad, an official at state firm PLN, told AFP.

Asaad said he could not estimate how many residents had been affected by the power shutdown.

“We’re currently focusing on taking measures to ensure people’s safety,” he added

Authorities said about 13,000 people were evacuated, but that figure did not include residents in Jakarta’s satellite cities.

“We’re evacuating people right now,” Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan told reporters.

“Everyone living near rivers should anticipate (more) flooding,” he added.

Images from across the region showed waterlogged homes and cars submerged in muddy floodwaters, while some people took to paddling in small rubber lifeboats or tyre inner-tubes to get around.

The disaster marked Jakarta’s worst flooding since 2013 when several dozen people were killed when the city was inundated by monsoon rains.

Jakarta is regularly hit by floods during Indonesia’s rainy season, which started in late November.

On Wednesday, service at Halim Perdanakusuma airport, which handles commercial and military planes, was temporarily shut due to severe flooding on its runways, according to the transport ministry.

Many flights were transferred to Jakarta’s main Soekarno–Hatta International Airport.

Crocodile Kills Indonesian Woman, Another Missing

 

 

A woman was killed by a crocodile, and another remains missing, after the fifth fatal attack in an Indonesian province this year, disaster mitigation agency officials said Friday.

The two separate incidents took place in neighbouring rivers in North Konawe regency, Southeast Sulawesi province, on Thursday and Friday.

The local disaster mitigation agency said a woman was attacked by a crocodile on Thursday evening, and her body was found later that day in Lalindu river.

On Friday the agency was called again after another woman was mauled by a crocodile in Lasolo river.

The two waterways are connected and are only 20 kilometres apart.

The head of emergency division at North Konawe Disaster mitigation agency, Djasmidin, who goes by one name like many other Indonesians, said on Friday a rescue team was searching the Lasolo river to find the second woman.

“Yes, there was another attack on Friday and we are still searching for the victim,” Djasmidin said.

On Thursday, 48-year-old Nurgaya, who goes by one name, was found roughly two kilometres from where she was attacked.

She had been washing clothes in the river with her daughter, who rushed to the rescue agency office to report the attack, Djasmidin said.

The identity of the second victim has not been confirmed, as teams continue to search.

This year at least four people have died after crocodile attacks, according to data from the local rescue agency.

AFP

Death Toll In Indonesia Bus Plunge Rises To 35

This picture taken on December 24, 2019, shows rescue personnel retrieving a victim’s body after a bus careered into a 150-metre deep ravine near Perahu Dipo village in Pagar Alam, South Sumatra. Ahmad TASRIQ / AFP

 

 

At least 35 people were killed when a bus plunged into a ravine in Indonesia, officials said in a new toll Thursday, making it one of the most deadly bus accidents in recent years.

A rescue team in Indonesia’s island of Sumatra on Thursday continued the search for a third day to find more bodies after seven new victims were found in a river late on Wednesday.

According to a passenger manifest, the regional bus left Bengkulu province for Pagar Alam with 27 onboard but some survivors told police there were around 50 people inside when the accident happened on Monday just before midnight.

Spokesman for a local rescue team in South Sumatra Taufan, who only goes by one name like many Indonesians, said Thursday that of the 35 people killed, 16 were male and 19 female.

“The rescue team is searching the river 6 kilometres towards the north using rafting,” Taufan told AFP on Thursday.

The team has evacuated at least 13 survivors and the search is still ongoing to find more bodies over fears that some might have been carried away in the river.

At least eight of the passengers killed were children, local police chief Dolly Gumara said Wednesday.

Traffic accidents are common in the Southeast Asian archipelago, where vehicles are often old and poorly maintained and road rules regularly flouted.

In September, at least 21 people died when a bus plunged into a ravine in West Java’s Sukabumi region.

Several months earlier, 12 people were killed and dozens more injured when a passenger tried to wrest control of a bus steering wheel following an argument with the driver on the same toll road in West Java as Thursday’s accident. The bus smashed into two cars, causing a truck to roll.

AFP

At Least 27 Die In Indonesia Bus Plunge

 

At least 27 people have died and more than a dozen were injured after a bus plunged into a ravine in Indonesia, officials said Tuesday. 

The bus careered into a 150-metre (500-foot) ravine in South Sumatra province just before midnight (1600 GMT) on Monday and ended up in a river, according to police.

Head of the local search and rescue team Berty Kowaas said divers were searching near the bus, which was half submerged.

Rescuers were also scouring nearby slopes for the missing.

“The current in the river is quite strong so there’s a possibility some victims were carried away,” Kowaas told Kompas TV Tuesday.

The accident happened in a remote and steep area near the town of Pagar Alam, hampering search efforts.

Footage shared by the rescue team showed bodies being retrieved out of the river and placed on stretchers.

Local police chief Dolly Gumara earlier said the bus was carrying more people than initially believed and several passengers could still be missing. No other vehicle was involved in the accident, she added.

According to a passenger manifest, the regional bus left Bengkulu province for Pagar Alam with 27 on board but some survivors told police there were around 50 people inside when the accident happened.

“Some passengers were probably added along the way so there’s a possibility some more people are still missing in the river,” Gumara said, adding the cause was being investigated.

Injured survivors have been taken to hospital for treatment and the cause of the accident is being investigated.

Traffic accidents are common in the Southeast Asian archipelago, where vehicles are often old and poorly maintained and road rules regularly flouted.

In September, at least 21 people died when a bus plunged into a ravine in West Java’s Sukabumi region.

Several months earlier, 12 people were killed and dozens more injured when a passenger tried to wrest control of a bus steering wheel following an argument with the driver on the same toll road in West Java as Thursday’s accident. The bus smashed into two cars, causing a truck to roll.

AFP

Three Students Found Dead In Flooded Indonesian Cave

 

 

Three university students were found dead in a cave in Indonesia after they were trapped inside by flood waters, officials said Monday.

A search and rescue operation launched on Sunday retrieved five people alive from Lele cave in West Java after heavy rain hit the area and flooded it, authorities said.

The victims “were trapped inside the cave for quite a while before the team managed to evacuate them,” said local search and rescue agency spokeswoman Seni Wulandari.

She added it took an hour for the rescue team to make it into the cave, which is 30 metres below ground level.

The students — part of a university nature club — went there to train in basic caving.

A senior member of the club who helped with the evacuation, Ari Alfian, said the weather was normal when the students entered the cave, but an unexpected heavy downpour hit the area.

“Water entered the cave like a waterfall. Initially only five students were inside the cave, including the victims,” Alfian told AFP on Monday.

“Another three came in to rescue them as the bad weather arrived. They were all trapped but only five managed to survive.”

The rainy season started in late November and several regions in Indonesia including West Java have been hit by bad weather and storms in the past two weeks.

AFP

Cholera Kills Over 27,000 Pigs In Indonesia

In this file photo taken on June 26, 2019, Pigs are seen at the Meloporc farm in Saint-Thomas de Joliette, Quebec, Canada. Sebastien St-Jean / AFP

 

More than 27,000 pigs have died in a hog-cholera epidemic that has struck Indonesia, with thousands more at risk, an animal welfare official said.

Thousands of pigs have died in more than a dozen regencies across North Sumatra over the past three months, and the pace of deaths is increasing, authorities said.

“Every day, between 1,000 and 2,000 pigs are dying. It’s quite a high figure,” said Agustia, the veterinary office chief in Medan who goes by one name, on Friday.

Still, he added that the current death toll was a small fraction of the 1.2 million hogs in North Sumatra, a part of Muslim-majority Indonesia that is predominantly Christian and where pork is an important part of local fare.

Last month, more than 1,000 cholera-stricken pigs were buried in the province after their decaying carcasses were plucked from local waterways, as police searched for suspects who discarded them.

Previously, lab tests found that the animals died of hog cholera but officials said they are also testing to see if any were infected with African swine fever. Neither are believed to pose a risk to humans.

In 2017, a hog cholera outbreak in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province killed more than 10,000 pigs, causing severe financial losses for local farmers.

AFP