Saturday, February 11, 2012

At least 14 killed as bus plunges into ravine

Yuli Tri Suwarni and Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post, Bandung/Jakarta | Sat, 02/11/2012 10:08 AM

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Deadly accident: Residents evacuate victims from the badly-damaged bus, which plunged into a ravine in Cisarua, Puncak, West Java on Friday. At least 14 people confirmed dead, leaving more than 40 were injured in the accident. (Tribun Jabar)Deadly accident: Residents evacuate victims from the badly-damaged bus, which plunged into a ravine in Cisarua, Puncak, West Java on Friday. At least 14 people confirmed dead, leaving more than 40 were injured in the accident.(Tribun Jabar)
Rescue workers had to use flashlights on Friday evening to recover bodies of at least 13 passengers and a meatball seller from a bus that had plunged into a ravine in Cisarua, Bogor, West Java.

The Kurnia Bhakti bus was reportedly standing in an almost vertical condition, that pushed down the bodies, adding difficulties to rescue workers’ efforts who had to work with limited lighting.

“At least 14 people were killed [as of 10 p.m.] while 40 others were injured,” said Jasa Raharga Bogor office head, Yahya Zulami, late Friday, as quoted.

He added that 11 of the victims had been identified.

“The evacuation process is still on going while traffic policemen are working to keep the traffic flowing past the accident site,” Second Adj. Insp. Jaelani from the Cisarua Police said. 

“The accident happened on a downhill section of the highway while rain was drizzling,” he added.

The accident involved a Kurnia Bhakti bus from Garut, West Java, heading to Jakarta. The bus’s brakes were believed to be damaged.

The accident took place near the Safari Garden Hotel.

West Java Police chief spokesman Sr. Comr. Martinus Sitompul said the accident took place at about 6:30 p.m. at Cisarua’s Pasar Atas, which is usually congested. 

“The accident involved 2 buses and 12 other vehicles,” he said in an SMS sent to The Jakarta Post.

The bus also apparently smashed into a number of motorcycles,

“The bus was coming from Puncak to Jakarta and hit four vehicles in front of it due to broken brakes,” he said. “The bus then swerved to the right side of the highway hitting a Doa Ibu bus and a public minivan that came from the opposite direction.”

The bus plunged into a ravine after smashing into a small meatball kiosk, killing the seller, and a villa.

Other vehicles reportedly impacted in the accident included a Toyota Kijang minivan, a Toyota Avanza minivan, a Suzuki APV minivan, a Nissan Grand Livina minivan and two Colt pick-up trucks.

The highway leading to Puncak is known for its hilly and narrow road popular for sightseers and holiday makers from Jakarta and Bandung.

The area is usually congested during weekends and holidays.

US firms plan to invest $25 billion in oil and gas

Hans David Tampubolon, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 02/11/2012 11:09 AM

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The executives of major United States-based companies have expressed an interest in increasing their investments within various industries in Indonesia, ranging from the film industry to high-cost oil and gas exploration and production.

Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo on Friday said that the US businessmen have promised long-term investments of up to US$25 billion in the oil and gas industry alone during a series of meetings with US-ASEAN Business Council delegates this week.

“They [the delegates] say that they will try to put more investment in the oil and gas industries by conducting more explorations and by preparing at least US$25 billion of investment in the next couple of years,” Agus told reporters in Jakarta.

Agus said that the delegates also expressed an interest to invest in other sectors and ventures in 

“The most highlighted areas are not only concerned with heavy equipment and technology investments but we also talked about a financial inclusion initiative, which will provide financial access to individuals who remained untouched by financial service institutions,” he said.

“The delegates also expressed an interest to invest in the film industry, the chemical industry and various other industries,” he added.

Agus said that the delegates also expressed concerns over the need for better policies to facilitate investment in Indonesia.

“We talked a lot about taxation, customs, the stock market and fiscal policy issues. They said that they were happy with the fact that we have managed to settle numerous taxation issues and they wanted to maintain the current level of communication with us,” he said. “Generally speaking, we had a great meeting and we plan to develop more communication with US businesses that are already established in Indonesia or those that are interested to enter our country at least once in the next six months.” 

The largest-ever US-ASEAN Business Council trade mission visited Jakarta this week.

The council comprises of 75 members who represent 35 companies — ranging from major corporations to small- and medium-sized businesses — met with Vice President Boediono and numerous economic ministers, such as Agus and Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan, to talk about the possibility of future cooperation between the US firms and the Indonesian government involving infrastructure development, electricity generation, the provision of financial services and other major areas.

Indonesia has become a major attraction for foreign investors, who are drawn by the potential of Southeast Asia’s largest economy, which managed to record substantial economic growth throughout 2011 despite of the deepening global crisis.

Pakistan army tries 5 officers over extremist ties

Munir Ahmed, Associated Press, Islamabad | Sat, 02/11/2012 8:26 PM

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The Pakistani army has started court martial proceedings against five officers over suspected ties to a banned extremist group that has called for ousting the U.S.-backed government, security officials said Saturday.
Brig. Ali Khan and four other officers were detained in May, 2011 for suspected links to the Hizb-ut-Tahrir group. Khan was working at the army's headquarters near the capital Islamabad at the time of his arrest. Khan's family has denied the allegations against him.
Two senior security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the military trial started recently but did not provide any other details. It was also not clear yet where the trial is taking place and what punishment the officers face, if convicted.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir is banned in Pakistan because of its extremist propaganda. The group also works to re-establish the Islamic caliphate, the administrative structure that once governed much of the Muslim world, and campaigns in Pakistan against the country's alliance with the Unites States in the war on terror.
The group insists it has rejected violence, although observers say it promotes an intolerant mindset that can ultimately lead some followers to embrace militancy.
Western officials have long suspected some Pakistani military officials of having ties to Islamist groups. Those fears spiked after American forces discovered and killed Osama bin Laden in an army town not far from Islamabad - although the U.S. has found no evidence that senior Pakistani officials knew of bin Laden's whereabouts.
The Pakistan military has repeatedly denied supporting extremist groups.
Khan's lawyer, retired Col. Inam Rahim, said after the arrest that his client was detained for demanding that someone within the military be held accountable for the covert U.S. Navy SEALs raid that killed bin Laden in Abbottabad.