TIME indonesia

Crashed Plane May Have Suffered Engine Problem, Indonesia Air Force Chief Says

APTOPIX Indonesia Military Plane Crash
Gilbert Manullang—Associated Press Firefighters and military personnel inspect the site where an Air Force cargo plane crashed in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, June 30, 2015

The fact that the plane turned rightward after takeoff suggests an engine failure

(MEDAN, Indonesia) — Indonesia’s air force chief said Thursday the military transport plane that crashed into a residential neighborhood of Medan killing 141 people had a propeller “abnormality” that indicates an engine stalled.

Air Marshal Agus Supriatna told reporters the fact that the plane turned rightward after takeoff and was flying at a lower than normal speed also suggests an engine failure.

Before crashing shortly after takeoff on Tuesday, the C-130 Hercules hit a 35-meter (115-foot) radio antenna, he said. “By hitting the antenna, I imagine it certainly affected the plane,” Supriatna said.

The search for bodies ended Wednesday. The plane was carrying 122 people and the impact also killed people on the ground.

Air force spokesman Dwi Badarmanto said it has grounded other B-type Hercules planes pending the investigation’s outcome. He didn’t say how many planes that involved.

The C-130 was carrying many more passengers than the military first reported. Initially, the air force said there were 12 crew members on the 51-year-old plane and did not mention passengers. It then repeatedly raised the number of people on board, indicating confusion about how many people had boarded and alighted during a journey covering several cities.

TIME indonesia

The Death Toll in the Indonesian Plane Crash Has Risen to 141

Security forces and rescue teams examine the wreckage of an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules transport plane after it crashed into a residential area in the North Sumatra city of Medan, Indonesia
Roni Bintang—Reuters Security forces and rescue teams examine the wreckage of an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules plane after it crashed into a residential area in the North Sumatra city of Medan, Indonesia, on June 30, 2015

Recovery teams continue to search through the rubble for bodies

Officials said early Wednesday that the death toll from Tuesday’s military plane crash on the Indonesian island of Sumatra had risen.

“We have received 141 bodies,” a police official named Agustinus Tarigan told Agence France-Presse at a local hospital.

The Indonesian air force, whose C-130 Hercules aircraft crashed in the highly populous city of Medan on Tuesday before exploding, revised the number of people on the plane to 122, 12 of whom were crew members. Authorities had earlier said there were only 113 people on board, and that they do not expect to find any survivors.

The plane hit a massage parlor and a hotel in one of the city’s residential areas, and recovery teams continue to clear debris in search of more bodies. Officials have thus far confirmed only three deaths on the ground.

The Aviation Safety Network, an agency that tracks air disasters worldwide, says this has been the sixth fatal crash involving Indonesia’s air force within the past decade.

[AFP]

TIME indonesia

Indonesian Military Transport Plane Crash Kills Dozens

Indonesia Military Plane Crash
Gilbert Manullang—AP Firefighters and military personnel inspect the site where an Air Force cargo plane crashed in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, June 30, 2015.

The crash occurred just minutes after the plane took off from a Medan airport

(MEDAN, Indonesia)—An Indonesian air force spokesman says the death toll in a military plane crash has risen to 74.

Air force officials say there may have been more than 100 people on the C-130 Hercules plane that crashed Tuesday in a residential area of Medan city in Sumatra.

They do not expect any survivors.

 

The plane’s manifest showed it was carrying 50 people, according to North Sumatra police chief Eko Hadi Sutedjo, but the actual number might be higher. Air force chief Air Marshall Agus Supriatna said there were 12 crew and more than 100 passengers on the plane before it reached Medan on Sumatra, one of Indonesia’s main islands. It had traveled from the capital, Jakarta, and stopped at two locations before arriving at Medan.

Many passengers were families of military personnel. Hitching rides on military planes to reach remote destinations is common in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago that spans three time zones.

Indonesia has a patchy aviation safety record. Between 2007 and 2009, the European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe because of safety concerns. The country’s most recent civilian airline disaster was in December, when an AirAsia jet with 162 people on board crashed into the Java Sea en route from Surabaya to Singapore. There have been five fatal crashes involving air force planes since 2008, according to the Aviation Safety Network, which tracks aviation disasters.

The crash of the transport plane, which had been in service since 1964, occurred just two minutes after it took off from Soewondo air force base.

Supriatna, the air force chief, said the pilot told the control tower that the plane needed to turn back because of engine trouble.

“The plane crashed while it was turning right to return to the airport,” he said.

Medan resident Fahmi Sembiring said he saw the gray Hercules flying very low as he was driving.

“Flames and black smoke were coming from the plane in the air,” he said.

Sembiring said he stopped not far from the crash site and saw several people rescued by police, security guards and bystanders.

Another man, Janson Halomoan Sinagam, said several of his relatives were on the plane when it left Medan headed for the remote Natuna island chain.

“We just want to know their fate,” he told MetroTV, weeping. “But we have not yet received any information from the hospital.”

The C-130 accident is the second time in 10 years that an airplane has crashed into a Medan neighborhood. In September 2005, a Mandala Airlines Boeing 737 crashed into a crowded residential community shortly after takeoff from Medan’s Polonia airport, killing 143 people including 30 on the ground.

Medan, with about 3.4 million people, is the third most populous city in Indonesia after Jakarta and Surabaya.

TIME indonesia

Indonesia Court Rejects Appeal of Frenchman Facing Execution

Serge Atlaoui
Tatan Syuflana—AP Serge Atlaoui is escorted by armed police upon arrival for his judicial-review hearing at the district court in Tangerang, Indonesia, March 11, 2015

His case has drawn national attention in France

(JAKARTA, Indonesia) — An Indonesian court on Monday denied the final appeal of a French national facing execution for drug offenses.

The administrative court in Jakarta said it could not overturn a presidential rejection of clemency for Serge Atlaoui, citing a lack of judicial authority.

His case has drawn national attention in France, which vigorously opposes the death penalty. Muslim majority Indonesia takes a hardline stance against drug crimes and resumed executions in 2013. So far this year it has executed 14 people convicted in drug cases.

Lawyers for Atlaoui made a last ditch appeal after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo denied clemency in December.

Presiding judge Ujang Abdullah said the court has no capacity to rule on the case since granting clemency is the prerogative right of the president.

“The President’s right to grant clemency is granted by the constitution while the authority of Administrative Court is just to judge on decrees issued by administrative officials,” Abdullah said.

The Frenchman was arrested in 2005 for involvement in an ecstasy factory on the outskirts of Jakarta.

Attorney General’s office spokesman Tony Spontana said the execution would happen after the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which ends July 17 in Indonesia.

“We welcome the Jakarta Administrative Court’s decision rejecting Atlaoui’s last appeal,” Spontana said. “This is good news for us, but we will not do anything related with his case during Ramadan.”

In April, Indonesia executed eight people convicted of drug trafficking, straining relations with Australia and Brazil, whose citizens were among those shot by a firing squad.

French President Francois Hollande has warned of diplomatic consequences and possible economic fallout if Atlaoui is executed.

TIME World

These 8 World Leaders Are Taking Major Steps Towards Gender Equality

From closing the pay gap to implementing board quotas to requiring all soldiers to take violence prevention courses, here's how 8 world leaders are embracing HeforShe

UN Women’s “He for She” initiative is in full swing, and on Thursday nine world leaders announced major steps they are taking to bring their countries to full gender equality. Each has pledged to champion HeForShe in their individual nations, and has outlined specific actions they’ll take towards ensuring equal opportunities for women.

The announcements are part of UN Women’s IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative, where 10 heads of state, 10 CEOs, and 10 university presidents commit to taking tangible steps to achieve gender equality, as part of the HeForShe movement that actress Emma Watson announced at the UN last year.

Here are some of the main commitments from 8 heads of state from around the world– the final two leaders will be announced at a later date.

Sauli Niinistö, President of Finland, has vowed to decrease violence against women by 5% over the next five years, partly by requiring all soldiers in the Finnish Defense Forces to learn about aggression control and violence prevention. Since Finland has universal male conscription, that means that almost all young men in Finland will be required to complete an education program on violence against women.

Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Prime Minister of Iceland, has committed to eliminating the gender pay gap in Iceland by 2022: currently, women are paid 6-18% less than men. The government will achieve this by conducting major audits of all companies in Iceland, to ensure that women are being paid fairly. Gunnlaugsson’s administration will also sponsor major reports on the status of women in media in Iceland, in order to achieve parity by 2020, and has pledged to make 1 in 5 Icelandic men commit to supporting HeforShe principals by 2016.

Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia, is pushing a to make the Indonesian parliament 30% female (up from 17%.) The government plans to promote more women to senior leadership positions, mandate gender training for all government institutions, and study trends in female voting and women who run for political office. Widodo also pledges to extend national health insurance coverage to reproductive and maternal health care, and improve sexual health services around the country. He also wants to fight violence against women, by launching a nationwide survey in 2016 that could help the government make targeted interventions to help the 3-4 million Indonesian women who face violence ever year. And, providing women migrant workers with financial literacy training is just one way they help give them more independence.

Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, is unrolling major reforms to support more women in the workforce. Abe is proposing a bill that would require all public sector institutions and companies with more than 301 employees to demonstrate concrete action plans to increase the representation of women. He’s also increasing nursery school capacity, and enhancing family leave policies. Japan is also leveraging $3 billion in international aid to enhance peace and security and ending sexual violence abroad.

Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi, is committing to fully ending child marriage in Malawi. Currently, about half of girls in Malawi are married before they turn 18– the government just passed a new law to address this problem, and Mutharika commits to fully implementing this law by creating new local marriage courts and improving marriage registration. Malawi is also making major steps towards economic empowerment of women, by requiring all commercial banks to develop lending options just for women by 2016, in order to increase the number of women accessing credit by 30%.

Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania, is launching a new nationwide analysis of violence against women, to make sure agencies and public institutions have the data they need to inform policy that could protect victims. Based on the data they find, Iohannis plans to create emergency shelters in every region of the country. Romania is also creating two entirely new professions — Expert in Gender Equality and Gender Equality Technician — to implement gender equality strategies, and 70% of Romanian public institutions are required to employ one by 2020.

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, is pledging to make sure women have equal access to technology and increase girls’ enrollment in tech fields. Currently, women represent only 20% of employees in the tech sector, and only 35% of women own mobile phones (compared to almost half of men.) Kagame also wants to get more girls enrolled in technical and vocational training programs by launching a national mentorship and career guidance program to encourage girls to take science and technology courses, aiming at 50% of eligible girls enrolled by 2020. Currently, only about 18% of eligible girls are enrolled. Rwanda is also rolling out an initiative to end gender-based violence, by building One Stop Centers all over the country to provide medical, legal, and psychological support to victims, part of what they call a “zero tolerance policy” towards sexual violence.

Stefan Löfvén, Prime Minister of Sweden, says Sweden already has a feminist government, but that more men need to stand up for gender equality. He promises to get more women into the workforce (64% of Swedish women are employed full time, compared to 69% of Swedish men) and close the wage gap– currently, Swedish women make only 87 cents for every dollar a man makes. Sweden has achieved a remarkable level of gender equality in government, but women are still under-represented in business and academia. The government has set a target that boards of top Swedish companies must be 40% female by 2017– if that goal isn’t met, the government will start implementing a quota.

Read more: Twitter, Vodafone and Georgetown University All Commit to Gender Equality

TIME indonesia

This Indonesian Volcano Could Be About to Blow

Authorities fear a major eruption at Mount Sinabung

Hundreds of villagers living near Mount Sinabung, one of Indonesia’s 130 active volcanoes, have been forced to evacuate as authorities fear a major eruption.

Dormant for more than 400 years, the volcano woke up on August 29, 2010, and has since erupted on six occasions. The latest activity has vulcanologists worried, the Associated Press reports, prompting authorities to raise the alert status to its highest level.

Government vulcanologist Gede Suantika told AP that at least 28 hot ash avalanches occurred Monday, with indications that the crater’s lava dome continues to grow in size. On June 2, it was estimated to measure estimated 3 million cubic meters (106 million cubic feet).

[AP]

TIME Australia

Indonesian Officials Offer ‘Proof’ That Australia Bribed Human Traffickers

Australian officials have sidestepped the allegations

The Sydney Morning Herald has reportedly obtained photographic evidence that proves Australian officials paid human traffickers to take a group of asylum seekers away from its shores.

Allegations surfaced earlier last week that Australian officials effectively bribed a group of people smugglers, who had 65 asylum seekers in tow, to ditch their original route to New Zealand and return to Indonesia with their human cargo.

The photos appear to show stacks of crisp $100 bills, which Indonesia’s police force say were handed over to six traffickers piloting the vessels that landed on Indonesia’s Rote Island in late May. TIME has not been able to independently verify the photos.

“We believe the payments happened,” General Endang Sunjaya, the police chief of Nusa Tenggara Timur province, told the newspaper. “They all said the same thing. They were paid by Australian officials to return to Indonesia.”

During an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Tuesday, Thomas Vargas, an Indonesia representative at the U.N. refugee agency, confirmed that several asylum seekers debriefed by one of the organization’s staffers corroborated the allegations.

“They indicated they had been with Australian authorities for several days,” Vargas told ABC. “At one point, they saw the boat captain receive a thick envelope and return back to two boats that were then turned around to the open sea and several days later they arrived in Indonesia.”

If confirmed, such payments would themselves amount to human trafficking, say human-rights groups. So far, Canberra has not denied the accusations.

“There’s really only one thing to say here, and that is that we’ve stopped the boats,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters on Sunday, according to the Guardian. “That’s good for Australia, it’s good for Indonesia and it’s particularly good for all those who want to see a better world.”

TIME natural disaster

Thousands Evacuated in Indonesia After Volcano Starts Spewing Ash and Toxic Gas

More people expected to flee in the coming days

Thousands of people living in the vicinity of a volcano on Indonesia’s island of Sumatra have been evacuated from their homes after it began erupting.

Mount Sinabung started to flare up over the weekend, sending hot ash and gas — known as pyroclastic flows — gushing down its slopes, reports the BBC. No injuries have been reported.

Authorities raised the alert level on June 2 after detecting a sharp increase in activity at Sinabung. In the past month, at least 3,000 villagers, including 1,200 on Monday, have been ordered from their homes and officials expect thousands more people will need to be evacuated in the coming days.

The volcano had been dormant for more than four centuries but roused back to life in 2010 and has been highly active since. In February 2014, at least 14 people were killed as pyroclastic flows engulfed nearby villages.

[BBC]

TIME portfolio

The Plight of the Rohingya by James Nachtwey

More Rohingya are embarking on perilous journeys to Thailand and Malaysia

For decades, TIME contract photographer James Nachtwey has used his camera to give form to the invisible. Yet in a world filled with persecuted people hidden in isolated corners of the globe, the Rohingya stand out. A Muslim minority from western Burma, the 1.3 million-strong Rohingya have been denied the most basic of human rights: citizenship. Their sense of self has been lost.

Since sectarian tensions erupted in 2012, roughly 140,000 Rohingya have been herded into camps by the Burmese government, which has allowed a virulent Buddhist nationalist movement to germinate. Last year, Nachtwey spent time in these Rohingya ghettos, where conditions were among the worst he had witnessed — and this from a photographer who has worked in refugee camps in Africa and the Middle East.

With limitations on their lives increasing with each month — in May, Burmese President Thein Sein signed a population-control law that could be used to restrict the number of children Rohingya bear — Rohingya have been boarding rickety boats in hopes of eventually landing in Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation where they take menial jobs. Over the last year or so, around 90,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants, who also hope for better economic prospects, have embarked on perilous journeys that take them across the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea to the jungles of Thailand and Malaysia. Often, the price agreed upon for the feat of human-smuggling rises once the migrants stumble into the jungle encampments. Unless family members pay up, the Rohingya and Bangladeshis face possible starvation, disease and even execution by the traffickers.

With Thailand and Malaysia finally cracking down on the trade, the human-smuggling trawlers — slave ships, really — have turned into floating prisons, as the normal trade routes are disrupted and captains abandon their boats. Thousands may still be stuck at sea. Meanwhile, on land, authorities have found more than 150 graves of suspected migrants, near abandoned jungle camps. Police and government officials have been detained for their part in the trafficking trade.

In May, Nachtwey traveled to three countries — Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia — to document the plight of Asia’s newest boat people. In Malaysia, he trekked through jungle to observe bodies being pulled out of the earth, near encampments with bamboo cages used to confine migrants. At a temporary refugee camp in Indonesia’s Aceh province, he captured an equally affecting scene: Rohingya who had spent more than three months at sea, starving and forced to drink their own urine, patiently lined up just a day after they had come ashore. One by one, they stood in front of an Indonesian photographer, who documented their names, ages and addresses — Burma was listed as their country of origin — on a whiteboard. Long unable to claim any real identity, the Rohingya were finally being given a chance at self-expression. As always, Nachtwey was there to bear witness.

Hannah Beech is TIME’s East Asia Bureau Chief and traveled with Nachtwey to report on the plight of the Rohingya.

James Nachtwey is a TIME contract photographer, documenting wars, conflicts and critical social issues.

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