TIME Aviation

Bad Weather Hinders The Recovery of Bodies From Indonesia’s Plane Crash

Rescuers work by the plane wreckage in Pegunungan Bintang, Papua province, Indonesia on Aug. 18, 2015.
BASARNAS (National Search and Rescue Agency)/AP Rescuers work by the plane wreckage in Pegunungan Bintang, Papua province, Indonesia on Aug. 18, 2015.

Rescuers would now try to carry the bodies out of the crash site on foot

(JAYAPURA, Indonesia) — Heavy fog and bad weather hampered rescuers Wednesday trying to evacuate bodies in eastern Indonesia where a passenger plane crashed into a mountain over the weekend, killing all 54 people on board, officials said.

The plane slammed into a mountain on Sunday but it took rescuers almost two days to reach the wreckage because of the rugged, forested terrain and bad weather.

Henry Bambang Soelistyo, the National Search and Rescue Agency chief, said bad weather was still hampering the operation and that rescuers would now try to carry the bodies out.

“Heavy rains and poor visibility were hampering our rescue efforts and evacuation process will be done by foot,” said Soelistyo, adding the bodies would be taken to Jayapura, the capital of Papua province, so they can be identified.

The flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder — the plane’s “black boxes” — were found in good condition, Soelistyo said. The data they contain could help explain what caused the Trigana Air Service plane to crash.

The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was flying from Jayapura to the city of Oksibil with 49 passengers and five crew members on a scheduled 42-minute flight on Sunday when it lost contact with air traffic control.

The airline’s crisis center official in Jayapura’s Sentani airport, Budiono, said all the passengers were Indonesians. Like many Indonesians, Budiono goes by one name.

Oksibil, about 280 kilometers (175 miles) south of Jayapura, was experiencing heavy rain, strong winds and fog when the plane lost contact with the airport minutes before it was scheduled to land.

The passengers included four postal workers escorting four bags of cash totaling $468,750 in government aid for poor families to help offset a spike in fuel prices, said Franciscus Haryono, the head of the post office in Jayapura, the provincial capital.

Rescuers have found the money, which was partly scorched, and will hand it over to the authorities, Soelistyo said.

Indonesia has had a string of airline tragedies in recent years. In December, all 162 people aboard an AirAsia jet were killed when the plane plummeted into the Java Sea as it flew through stormy weather on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore.

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Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

TIME Aviation

Black Box Recovered From Indonesian Plane Crash

The plane was destroyed in the crash

(JAYAPURA, Indonesia) — Indonesian officials say the black box has been recovered from passenger plane that crashed in a remote area of the country, killing all 54 people on board.

The plane went missing two days ago but rescuers only reached the crash site on Tuesday because of delays caused by the weather and rough terrain.

They said Tuesday that the plane was destroyed in the crash and there was no chance of any survivors.

TIME Aviation

Indonesian Plane ‘Totally Destroyed,’ All Victims’ Bodies Recovered

"All the bodies were burned and difficult to identify"

(JAYAPURA, Indonesia) — An Indonesian passenger plane that went missing two days ago was destroyed when it slammed into a mountain, killing all 54 people on board, the country’s top rescue official said.

More than 70 rescuers reached the crash site only on Tuesday after being hindered by rugged, forested terrain and bad weather.

The flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, the plane’s “black boxes,” were found in good condition, said Henry Bambang Soelistyo, the National Search and Rescue Agency chief. The data they contain could help explain what caused the crash.

“The plane was totally destroyed and all the bodies were burned and difficult to identify,” Soelistyo told The Associated Press.

He said all 54 bodies had been recovered and will be taken to Jayapura, the capital of Papua province, so they can be identified.

The Trigana Air Service plane was flying from Jayapura to the city of Oksibil with 49 passengers and five crew members on a scheduled 42-minute flight when it lost contact Sunday.

Soelistyo said the wreckage was at an altitude of 2,600 meters (about 8,500 feet). Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed in the past have never been found.

The airline’s crisis center official in Jayapura’s Sentani airport, Budiono, said all the passengers were Indonesians, and included three local government officials and two members of the local parliament who were to attend a ceremony Monday in Oksibil marking the 70th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence from Dutch colonial rule.

Oksibil, about 280 kilometers (175 miles) south of Jayapura, was experiencing heavy rain, strong winds and fog when the plane lost contact with the airport minutes before it was scheduled to land.

The victims’ relatives, who had been waiting at the airport, broke down in tears when they heard the news. Many of them accused the airline of taking too long to give them information.

“They are unprofessional … they play with our feelings of grieving,” said Cory Gasper, whose brother Jhon Gasper was on the plane.

The airline released a public apology just after a search plane spotted the smoldering wreckage of the ATR42-300 twin turboprop on Monday.

It was unclear what caused the caused the crash, Indonesia’s transportation safety commission has opened an investigation.

The passengers included four postal workers escorting four bags of cash totaling $468,750 in government aid for poor families to help offset a spike in fuel prices, Franciscus Haryono, the head of the post office in Jayapura, the provincial capital, told The Associated Press.

Indonesia has had a string of airline tragedies in recent years. In December, all 162 people aboard an AirAsia jet were killed when the plane plummeted into the Java Sea as it flew through stormy weather on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore.

The sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people and some 17,000 islands is one of Asia’s most rapidly expanding airline markets, but it is struggling to provide enough qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.

From 2007 to 2009, the European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe because of safety concerns.

Trigana Air Service, which began operations in 1991, had 22 aircraft as of December 2013 and flies to 21 destinations in Indonesia. The carrier has had 19 serious incidents since 1992, resulting in the loss of eight aircraft and major damage to 11 others, according to the Aviation Safety Network’s online database.

The airline remains banned from flying to Europe along with other six Indonesian airlines.

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Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

TIME indonesia

Indonesian Plane Was Carrying $470,000 When It Crashed

The money was part of an official relief program and was intended to be distributed to villagers

A passenger plane that crashed Sunday with 54 people on board in Indonesia’s Papua province was carrying cash worth about $470,000 for local aid.

The riders on the Trigana Air Service ATR 42-300 plane, including 44 adult passengers, five children and infants and five crew, were carrying money for remote villages in Indonesia’s poor easternmost province. The funds were part of an official assistance program and were intended to be distributed to villagers, Reuters reports.

“There were four people carrying the money, 6.5 billion rupiah ($471,500),” a spokesman for Indonesia’s postal service said.

The crash is the latest in a slew of aviation catastrophes in Southeast Asia. Search and rescue teams have spotted debris believed to be from the crashed aircraft in the heavily forested Bintang Mountains district.

[Reuters]

 

TIME Aviation

Searchers Have Spotted the Wreckage of the Missing Indonesian Plane

Search planes went into the air early Monday

(JAYAPURA, Indonesia) — A search plane has spotted the wreckage of an Indonesian passenger plane that went missing with 54 people on board, smoke still billowing from it in a rugged area in eastern Papua province, rescue officials said Monday.

There was no immediate word if there were any survivors from Sunday’s crash, which happened in bad weather over Indonesia’s mountainous easternmost province.

The Trigana Air Service plane was flying from Papua’s provincial capital, Jayapura, to the Papua city of Oksibil when it lost contact with Oksibil’s airport. Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata said there was no indication that the pilot had made a distress call.

Officials said the wreckage was spotted about 12 kilometers (7 miles) from Oksibil. Henry Bambang Soelistyo, the chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency, said search and rescue teams were preparing to try to reach the crash site by air and foot.

The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was carrying 49 passengers and five crew members on a scheduled 42-minute journey. Five children, including two infants, were among the passengers.

“Smoke was still billowing from the wreckage when it was spotted by a plane search,” said Soelistyo who is leading the rescue operation from Sentani Airport in Jayapura, adding that bad weather and rugged terrain were hampering efforts to reach the wreckage located in a mountainous area at an altitude of 2,600 meters (about 8,500 feet).

He said elite forces from the air force and army will build a helipad for evacuation purposes near the crash site.

Search planes went into the air early Monday after residents of a village not far from Oksibil told local police that they saw a plane flying low before crashing into a mountain, said Ludiyanto, who heads the search and rescue operation from Jayapura. Ludiyanto, like many Indonesians, goes by one name.

The airline’s crisis center official in Jayapura’s Sentani airport, Budiono, said all the passengers are Indonesians and there were nine names on the initial passenger manifest were eventually replaced by other persons — a common practice among small domestic airlines in the country.

Budiono also said that among the passengers were five local government officials and members of the local parliament who were to attend a ceremony Monday in Oksibil marking the 70th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence from Dutch colonial rule. The event is a major holiday across the country, with many ceremonies and carnivals.

Oksibil, which is 280 kilometers (175 miles) south of Jayapura, was experiencing heavy rain, strong winds and fog when the plane lost contact with the airport minutes before it was scheduled to land.

Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed in the past have never been found.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said in a statement ahead of Indonesia’s 70th independence anniversary ceremony that he was calling “for a moment of silence and pray for the crew and passengers ahead of our independence anniversary.”

European plane maker ATR said in a statement late Sunday that it “acknowledges the reported loss of contact” with the Trigana flight “and is standing by to support the relevant aviation authorities.” ATR, based in Toulouse, France, makes regional planes with 90 seats or less.

Indonesia has had a string of airline tragedies in recent years. Last December, all 162 people aboard an AirAsia jet were killed when the plane plummeted into the Java Sea as it flew through stormy weather on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore.

The sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people and some 17,000 islands is one of Asia’s most rapidly expanding airline markets, but it is struggling to provide enough qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.

From 2007 to 2009, the European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe because of safety concerns.

Trigana Air Service, which commenced operations in 1991, had 22 aircraft as of December 2013 and flies to 21 destinations in Indonesia.

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Associated Press writers Ali Kotarumalos and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.

TIME indonesia

Indonesian Plane Carrying 54 Goes Missing

The weather was poor, with heavy winds and fog

(JAKARTA, Indonesia) — An airliner carrying 54 people went missing Sunday during a short flight in bad weather in Indonesia’s mountainous easternmost province of Papua, and rescuers were heading to an area where villagers reported seeing a plane crash into a mountain, officials said.

The Trigana Air Service plane was flying from Papua’s provincial capital, Jayapura, to the Papua city of Oksibil when it lost contact with Oksibil’s airport, said Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata. There was no indication that the pilot had made a distress call, he said.

The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was carrying 49 passengers and five crew members on the scheduled 42-minute journey, Barata said. Five children, including two infants, were among the passengers.

Local media reports said all the passengers are Indonesians. The airline did not immediately release a passenger manifest.

Oksibil, which is about 280 kilometers (175 miles) south of Jayapura, was experiencing heavy rain, strong winds and fog when the plane lost contact with the airport minutes before it was scheduled to land, said Susanto, the head of Papua’s search and rescue agency.

Residents of Okbape village in Papua’s Bintang district told local police that they saw a plane flying low before crashing into a mountain, said Susanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. He said about 150 rescuers were heading to the remote area, which is known for its dense forest and steep cliffs, and would begin searching for the plane early Monday.

Okbape is about 24 kilometers (15 miles) west of Oksibil.

At a news conference Sunday night at the transport ministry in Jakarta, officials said they would not have any details on the villagers’ report until rescuers reach the area.

“We are now working closely with the National Search and Rescue Agency to find the plane,” said Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan.

A plane was sent Sunday to look for the missing airliner, but the search was suspended due to darkness and limited visibility and will resume Monday morning, Susanto said.

Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed there in the past have never been found.

Dudi Sudibyo, an aviation analyst, said that Papua is a particularly dangerous place to fly because of its mountainous terrain and rapidly changing weather patterns. “I can say that a pilot who is capable of flying there will be able to fly an aircraft in any part of the world,” he said.

Indonesia has had its share of airline woes in recent years. The sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people and some 17,000 islands is one of Asia’s most rapidly expanding airline markets, but is struggling to provide enough qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.

From 2007 to 2009, the European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe because of safety concerns.

Last December, all 162 people aboard an AirAsia jet were killed when the plane plummeted into the Java Sea as it ran into stormy weather on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore.

That disaster was one of five suffered by Asian carriers in a 12-month span, including Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which went missing in March 2014 with 239 people aboard during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Trigana Air Service, which commenced operations in 1991, had 22 aircraft as of December 2013 and flies to 21 destinations in Indonesia.

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Associated Press writer Ali Kotarumalos contributed to this report.

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This story has been corrected to show that Susanto is the head of Papua’s search and rescue agency, not the national search and rescue agency.

 

TIME indonesia

Jakarta Court Overturns Sex Convictions Against International School Teachers

INDONESIA-CANADA-EDUCATION-CHILDREN-COURT
Adek Berry—AFP/Getty Images Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman (2nd R) and Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdinand Tjiong (2nd L) arrive at the South Jakarta court in Jakarta on December 2, 2014

“The truth is finally revealed and justice has been done,” lawyer says

Two teachers from an exclusive international school in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, walked free after a judge upheld their appeal and quashed sexual-assault convictions Friday, AP reports.

Canadian Neil Bantleman and his Indonesian colleague Ferdinant Tjiong were initially convicted under Indonesia’s child-protection law — which calls for a maximum of 15 years in prison for sexual abuse toward a child. They had been accused of raping three kindergarten-aged boys at the Jakarta Intercultural School, formerly known as the Jakarta International School.

They were set to serve a 10-year prison sentence, of which they’ve already served over a year, the CBC reports.

The two teachers maintained their innocence throughout the trial. AP says that staff at the school campaigned for their release, arguing that the case was motivated by money after the mother of one of the children sued the school for $125 million in compensation.

A judge threw the mother’s case out of court on Aug. 10, saying that there was not enough medical evidence to prove the boys had been assaulted. In July, a Singaporean court found the woman guilty of defaming the two teachers and ordered her to pay damages. (The defamation case was heard in Singapore because initial accusations against Bantleman and Tjiong were made in the form or emails and texts sent from the city-state.)

“The truth is finally revealed and justice has been done,” the teachers’ lawyer, Hotman Paris Hutapea, told AP.

[AP]

 

TIME indonesia

Thousands Are Left Stranded Over Eid as Indonesia Closes Three Airports

The closures come as millions of people travel home to celebrate Eid al-Fitr with their families

Eruptions from two volcanoes in Indonesia forced authorities to close three more airports Thursday, including the international terminal in the country’s second largest city Surabaya.

In total, five airports have closed because of ash spewing from Mount Raung on the main Java island and Mount Gamalama in eastern Indonesia, which erupted Thursday morning, reports the BBC.

The closures come as millions of people in the world’s most populous Muslim nation journey home for Eid al-Fitr celebrations, which mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Thousands of people traveling to spend the holiday with their families are now left stranded at the airports.

On Thursday evening, officials closed the airports serving Surabaya and Malang in East Java province, and Ternate in North Maluku province. Two other airports — Banyuwangi and Jember — have remained closed since last week.

Over the past two weeks, an ash cloud spewing from Mount Raung caused serious travel disruption on the holiday island of Bali, forcing multiple airports to close and leaving thousands of tourists and locals stranded. Those airports have since reopened.

[BBC]

TIME indonesia

As Bali Flights Resume, Airlines Are Facing a Huge Backlog of Passengers

Travelers wait as flights are cancelled due to the eruption of Mount Raung in East Java, at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia, Sunday, July 12, 2015.
Associated Press Travelers wait as flights are canceled at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia, on July 12, 2015, because of the eruption of Mount Raung in East Java province

It will take up to three days to clear a backlog of almost 900 flights

Bali’s main international airport in Denpasar reopened late Sunday afternoon, allowing airlines to begin the mammoth task of clearing a huge backlog of passengers that had been stranded in recent days due to a volcanic-ash cloud that had grounded hundreds of flights.

Mount Raung on East Java began erupting on July 2, sending a massive ash cloud toward the popular resort island of Bali. Flights have been disrupted since Wednesday, and five airports in the region were forced to close, including Denpasar’s Ngurah Rai international airport, which shut on Friday and again on Sunday.

Officials said the ash cloud was drifting away from Bali on Monday, giving airlines a chance to clear a backlog of almost 900 flights — but that would take up to three days, reports Agence France-Presse.

“We are doing this as quickly as possible as the ash could come back anytime,” airport official Yulfiadi told AFP.

On Monday, Indonesian carrier Garuda Airlines told TIME that domestic and international flights to and from the island resort of Bali were scheduled as usual, although there would be delays.

Jetstar announced Monday that it would resume some services between Bali and Australia in the afternoon, and Malaysia’s AirAsia carrier said Sunday that it was resuming several domestic and international flights.

Virgin Australia said its planes, however, would remain grounded throughout Monday following advice from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center.

Volcanic ash can damage a plane’s engines, and the eruption at Mount Raung has caused travel chaos and left thousands of people stranded in Indonesia and around the region for days. The disruption comes at a particularly busy time in Indonesia as millions of Muslims travel to celebrate ‘Id this week. School holidays during the southern hemisphere winter are also a hugely popular time for Australians to visit Bali.

For residents living in the vicinity of Mount Raung, evacuations have not been deemed necessary, although authorities are urging people to wear face masks, the Associated Press reports. People are also warned not to approach a 2-mile high-danger zone around the volcano.

TIME indonesia

A Volcanic Ash Cloud Has Shut Down Four Indonesian Airports, Stranding Holidaymakers

Ash and smoke are emitted from the volcano Mount Raung seen from the village of Sumber Arum, near Banyuwangi, East Java province, Indonesia on July 4, 2015.
Budi Candra Setya—Antara Photo Agency/Reuters Ash and smoke are emitted from the volcano Mount Raung seen from the village of Sumber Arum, near Banyuwangi, East Java province, Indonesia on July 4, 2015

Mount Raung could continue to erupt for several weeks to come

Plumes of volcanic ash spewing from an active volcano in Indonesia have forced airlines to cancel flights for a third consecutive day to and from the popular island resort of Bali, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reports.

Indonesian authorities also closed Lombok, Jember and Banyuwangi airports, leaving many holidaymakers stranded.

The volcanic Mount Raung lies in East Java province, about 93 miles (150 km) from Bali, and began erupting on July 2. Winds have blown an ash cloud from the volcano close to the airport causing visibility concerns.

The ash cloud, which has traveled about 180 miles (300 km) southeast of the volcano and 3 miles (5 km) up into the air, is expected to clear over the next 24 hours as the wind is forecast to turn.

But Mount Raung could continue to erupt for several weeks to come.

“Volcanoes are very hard to predict but the indication at the moment is this activity could continue into the future,” Steph Bond from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre told ABC.

[ABC]

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