Weather improves but progress slow in AirAsia search

admin   •   January 7, 2015   •   2610

A Malaysian Navy ship is seen from an Indonesian Air Force Super Puma helicopter during a search mission for for AirAsia flight QZ8501 off the coast of Central Kalimantan January 6, 2015. CREDIT: REUTERS/VERI SANOVRI

(Reuters) – Indonesian search and rescue officials reported better weather on Wednesday over the presumed crash site of an AirAsia passenger jet, but appeared no closer to finding the black box flight recorders that may explain what brought the plane down.

Flight QZ8501 vanished from radar screens over the northern Java Sea on Dec. 28, less than half-way into a two-hour flight from Indonesia’s second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore. There were no survivors among the 162 people on board.

Thirty-nine bodies and debris from the plane have since been plucked from the surface of the waters off Borneo, but strong winds and high waves have prevented divers from reaching larger pieces of suspected wreckage detected by sonar on the sea floor. “It’s clear, it’s much better than the past few days,” air force First Lieutenant Alpha Yudi Baskoro told reporters in Pangkalan Bun, the southern Borneo town where the operation is based. “Waves are around one to two meters – that’s good. The wind speed is also relatively low.”

Indonesian officials believe seven metal objects pinpointed in water about 30 meters deep may include the tail and parts of the fuselage of the Airbus A320-200.

But even on the few occasions the weather has allowed divers to enter the water, strong currents and poor visibility in the muddy sea have made progress painstakingly slow.

“We couldn’t dive for long, only five or 10 minutes and then go up,” navy diving supervisor Sergeant Major Rudi Hartanto told Reuters late on Tuesday. “The sea bed is mostly mud and sand, and the current is strong – four to five knots – so the mud comes up and the visibility reduces to zero.”

For relatives of those aboard the flight, the slow pace has been agonizing. “I’m still looking for my younger sibling,” said a woman, who did not give her name, at the crisis center set up for relatives in Surabaya.

Indonesia AirAsia, 49 percent owned by the Malaysia-based AirAsia budget group, has faced criticism from authorities in Jakarta in the 10 days since the crash.

The transport ministry has suspended the carrier’s Surabaya-Singapore license, saying it only had permission to fly the route on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Flight QZ8501 took off on a Sunday, though the ministry said this had no bearing on the accident.

AirAsia has said it is cooperating fully with the ministry’s investigations.

Indonesia has also reassigned some airport and air traffic control officials who allowed the flight to take off and tightened rules on pre-flight procedures in a country with a patchy reputation for air safety.

(Additional reporting by Gayatri Suroyo, Nicholas Owen, Wilda Asmarini, Eveline Danubrata, Michael Taylor, Charlotte Greenfield and Fransiska Nangoy in Jakarta/Surabaya; Writing by Alex Richardson)

PNR’s new trains from Indonesia now fully operational

Marje Pelayo   •   January 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Railway (PNR) inaugurated on Thursday (January 28) three new diesel hydraulic locomotives (DHL) with 15 passenger coaches that were built in Indonesia.

The new train sets are designed to provide commuters smoother and more convenient rides from the Tutuban Station in Manila to Los Baños in Laguna.

With the addition of the new train sets, the PNR Metro Commuter Line now targets to serve a total of 140,000 passengers daily, doubling its existing capacity from 48,000 to 60,000 per day.

Thursday’s inaugural run from the PNR Dela Rosa Station in Makati to the Manila Tutuban Station was graced by Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade, PNR General Manager Junn Magno as well as representatives from the Republic of Indonesia Embassy in Manila, and representatives from PT Industri Kereta Api (PT-INKA) the firm that made the train sets.

Secretary Tugade said the inaugural run of the new train sets assures the riding public of safe, convenient, and comfortable travels.

“Ngayon po, patuloy na binabago natin ang PNR. ‘Kailan darating ang bagong tren?’ Ngayon po, dumating na ang bagong tren. At ‘Kailan naman natin masasakyan ang bagong tren?’ Ngayon po, pasisinayaan at sasakyan natin ang mga bagong tren,” Secretary Tugade said.

The new train sets are part of the PNR Management Re-fleeting Strategy which involves the delivery of train sets composed of 37 cars and three locomotives procured in 2018.

Meanwhile, GM Magno explained that the train sets are composed of three diesel hydraulic locomotives and 15 coaches equivalent to nine train sets.

Each train can accommodate 1,330 passengers per set in a single trip but due to physical distance the capacity is scaled down to 700 passengers per trip.

The train sets have a maximum design speed of 120 kilometers per hour, with high clearance for flooded tracks. 

Each train set features an interior access to the engine room, the first of its kind for the PNR fleet. 

The train sets are also equipped with 36,000 kilocalories per hour of air conditioning in each coach that is suitable for tropical countries like the Philippines.

Among its main features is the diesel hydraulic engine which can run even in floodwater.

“Itong mga tren na ito lahat ng equipment nilipat natin lahat sa locomotive pati mga generator so kapag tinignan nyo ilalim nyan wala nang laman,” Magno said.

“So pwede siyang pumunta sa baha hanggang 18 inches na tubig above nung top nung rail,” he added.

The official, meanwhile, asks residents living near the train rails not to throw anything on the passing trains.

“Iyong mga tren po natin although matitibay iyan mga bago yan hindi na nababasag ang salamin,” Magno explained.

“Huwag nyo na pong subukan para po sa ating nga kababayan iyan. Ipe-fence off napo namin. Maguumpisa na ang construction dito sa North-South Commuter railway. Ipe-fence off na po namin ang right of way,” he said. MNP (with inputs from Joan Nano)

Indonesian divers to retrieve black boxes from plane wreckage

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 11, 2021

Retrieval operations are underway after the Indonesia National Transport Safety Committee located two black boxes of Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 that crashed on January 9.

The black boxes, or the flight data recorders can help in determining the cause of the plane crash.

On Sunday (January 10), Indonesian authorities said they found the location of the black boxes after retrieving several parts of the plane’s fuselage. Several bodies of the passengers were also found and retrieved.

The Sriwijaya Air Jet was carrying 62 people en route to Pontianak in West Kalimantan. It disappeared from the radar a few minutes after it took flight.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has ordered the National Transport Safety Committee to conduct an investigation into the incident.

This is the first major crash in Indonesia since 2018, where 189 passengers and crew were killed after a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max crashed into the Java sea after its take off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. AAC (with reports from Salvie Alvarez)

Palace unconvinced PH has higher COVID-19 cases than Indonesia

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 7, 2020

Malacañang is not convinced that the Philippines has surpassed Indonesia in the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

During a press briefing on Friday (August 7), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippines is conducting more COVID-19 tests which resulted in more confirmed cases.

Ibig sabihin po dahil mas maigiting ang ating pagte-test hindi totoo na mas marami tayo kaso kaysa sa Indonesia. Hindi lamang nalalaman ng mga Indonesian kung sino-sino ang mga umiikot na mayroong sakit at least tayo alam kung sino po sila (It means we are conducting more tests. It is not true that we have more cases than Indonesia. The Indonesians don’t know who are sick at least, on our case, we know),” he said.

The Department of Health (DOH) has previously explained that the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines cannot be compared to other countries because of the population difference and health care system.

Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said no country can say they have been successful in their fight against COVID-19.

“No country could ever say they are successful. Look at Japan, look at Italy, even Vietnam, and Singapore,” he said. “We focus on what we are doing is appropriate, proper, and practical rather than everyday compare yourself.” -AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

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