The death toll from a powerful earthquake that rocked Indonesia’s remote Maluku islands has risen to 23. More than 15,000 people have been evacuated to shelters. Among the confirmed dead, an infant with many killed by falling debris in and around quake-struck Ambon city.
More than 100 people were also injured and at least 15,000 people had to evacuate because their houses were damaged by the strong jolt.
Terrified residents ran into the streets as buildings fell in around them with the 6.5 magnitude quake sparking landslides that buried at least one victim yesterday. Hundreds of houses, offices, schools and public facilities have also been damaged in the disaster. Authorities have set up emergency tents and public kitchen for the evacuees in several districts.
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck about 37 kilometres (23 miles) northeast of Ambon in Maluku province at a depth of 29 kilometres. The Southeast Asian archipelago is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth. It experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.
SOURCE: Agence France-Presse
PHOTO: The Tribune
Indonesian suicide bomber wounds six, dozens arrested in Sumatra
Dozens of suspected militants have been rounded up after a suicide bomber killed himself and wounded six others in a police station attack in Indonesia. Around 45 suspects have been arrested since Wednesday’s bombing in Medan, Sumatra, while two bomb-makers were shot dead during a raid.
A National Police spokesman told reporters in Jakarta that the pair resisted arrest and tried to attack police with sharp weapons and an air gun. They had built the low-intensity bomb that the 24 year old attacker strapped to his body.
Authorities earlier thought the bomber was a “lone wolf” after the blast that wounded four police officers and two civilians.
Meanwhile, state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II tightened security in 19 airports in the wake of similar incidents on November 13.
Indonesia is the the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, and has long struggled with Islamist militancy. Police stations remain frequent targets for militant attacks.
About 20 other suspects arrested since the bombing, including the bomber’s wife and their religious mentor who both played, what police describe as, “direct roles” in the attack and had links to Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, an acknowledged Islamist terrorist organisation.
JAD is a local extremist group aligned with ISIS which has made previous attacks, including suicide bombings at several churches last year that killed a dozen parishioners.
“The wife together with her husband (the bomber) were known members of JAD. They also attended military camp training, and learned how to buy guns and sharp weapons,” according to the police spokesman.
Some residents in Medan protested plans to bury the bomber’s body there.
Last month, Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered beefed-up security after two JAD-linked militants stabbed his chief security minister.
Indonesia, a nation of more than 260 million, has significant numbers of religious minorities, including Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, who have been targeted by radical Islamist groups amid concerns about rising intolerance.
SOURCE: The ASEAN Post
Report into Lion Air crash blames variety of factors
Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee has released its report into the Lion Air crash of October 29 last year.
Thai PBS World says the report blames a combination of aircraft design flaws, inadequate training and maintenance problems for the accident that killed 189 passengers and crew.
The report states that Lion Air flight 610, which had taken off from Jakarta and was headed to the island of Sumatra, crashed partly as a result of inadequate crew training. It says pilots were not told how to swiftly deal with malfunctions of the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet’s automated flight-control system.
It’s understood the system was built around a sensor that provided inaccurate information and caused the nose of the plan to push down as the pilots were trying to get the jet to climb. The plane crashed into the Java Sea just minutes after take-off.
A similar accident occurred the following March, when another Boeing 737 Max jet crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa airport in Ethiopia.
Boeing have vowed to prevent such accidents from ever occurring again.
In a statement issued after Indonesian safety officials released their final report into the Lion Air crash, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said the aircraft manufacture is working to address the committee’s safety recommendations and improve the safety of the 737 Max.
He added that the aircraft and its operating software are being tested extensively, with hundreds of flight simulations and test flights, analysis of thousands of documents, reviews from independent experts and regulators and strict certification requirements.
Indonesia’s burning issue – controlling the palm oil giants
PHOTOS: Donny Sophandi and AFP
A brutal Indonesian forest fire season blanketed some of south east Asia in choking smog is renewing scrutiny of the country’s major palm oil and paper companies. Activists are accusing them of breaking promises to halt logging.
The monster plantation blazes sent a pall of acrid smoke over the region for weeks, closing schools and airports and causing a spike in respiratory ailments. Singapore, Malaysia and southern Thailand were the worst affected but the smoke also caused grief for thousands of other Indonesian citizens living around the fires and adjacent islands.
Leading companies have in recent years pledged not to log any more pristine rainforest, not to use burning to clear land and to cut ties with smaller suppliers who don’t abide by their rules, but critics claim such vows now ring hollow.
Annisa Rahmawati, a senior forest campaigner at Greenpeace, says they do not live up to the commitments, and are not addressing the fact that we are now in a climate crisis.
“They are still doing business as usual.”
Industry players, however, insist they have gone to great lengths to stop burning and trees being cut down in their operations. Singapore-listed Wilmar International, the world’s biggest palm oil trader, committed in 2013 to a no-deforestation policy and says it has stopped sourcing from 17 suppliers that did not comply with their rules.
Production of palm oil, used in numerous everyday goods from shampoo to biscuits, has been blamed by environmentalists for driving massive deforestation. Consumer goods companies are paying more attention to where they source palm oil and other materials.
Some of the world’s largest brands, including Nestle and Unilever, pledged in 2010 to reach net zero deforestation within a decade through “responsible sourcing” of cattle, palm oil, soya and other commodities.
But after that pledge was signed, the pace of tree-felling linked to commodities increased dramatically and at least 50 million hectares (123 million acres) of forest worldwide has been destroyed Greenpeace said – an area about the size of Spain.
Fires are used as a cheap way to clear agricultural land in Indonesia every year during the dry season.
Experts say it is hard to know who is responsible for the blazes in the hardest hit areas – Indonesia’s Sumatra island and the Indonesian part of Borneo, which are home to myriad companies of varying sizes and numerous small-scale farmers.
Big firms insist they have “no-burn” policies in place and often blame smallholders for starting fires they say then spread to their plantations.
Indonesia has made some arrests over the blazes but in many cases it remains unclear who started the fires – and who ordered them.
While larger companies have vowed not to source from smaller ones that break strict environmental rules, critics say they are not monitoring their supply chains carefully.
“The biggest challenge is the industry-wide lack of traceability of the origins of palm fruit,” said Nur Maliki Arifiandi, from WWF Indonesia.
“This has allowed continuing deforestation, often caused by real smallholders as well as land speculators and rich, powerful people to open more natural forest areas and plant illegal oil palm plantations.”
Some industry watchers say commitments by big firms have helped and official figures show the rate of forest loss in Indonesia declined in recent years.
The burning issue
But critics say problems persist – this week Greenpeace said in a new report that palm oil and pulpwood companies with links to land burned between 2015 and 2018 rarely faced serious government sanctions.
And last year the NGO accused palm-oil giant Wilmar, as well as other consumer brands including Colgate-Palmolive, Hershey, Nestle, and Unilever, of continuing to buy from groups that were destroying the rainforest.
At the end of 2018 Wilmar, Unilever and Mondelez committed to a mapping and monitoring platform for the palm oil sector, which Greenpeace supported at the time as a potential breakthrough in cleaning up supply chains. But the NGO pulled out of the project last month, saying the companies were not serious about the project.
Wilmar insists it sticks to its commitments and says it continues to work towards a supply chain free from deforestation from 2020. Activists however doubt such goals are within reach.
The Conversation lists key things Indonesia’s President Jokowi can do to fix the problem HERE.
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