Friday, May 11, 2012

Crews scale volcano to reach Indonesian crash site

Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian: Republik Indonesia Indonesian pronunciation: [rɛpʊblɪk ɪndɔnɛsɪa]), is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 17,508 islands.[5] It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an elected legislature and president. The nation's capital city is Jakarta. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, Philippines, Australia, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Indonesia is a founding member of ASEAN and a member of the G-20 major economies. The Indonesian economy is the world's seventeenth largest economy by nominal GDP and fifteenth largest by purchasing power parity. Indonesia is one of the fastest growing major economies in the world.

The Indonesian archipelago has been an important trade region since at least the 7th century, when Srivijaya and then later Majapahit traded with China and India. Local rulers gradually absorbed foreign cultural, religious and political models from the early centuries CE, and Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished. Indonesian history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. Muslim traders brought Islam, and European powers brought Christianity and fought one another to monopolize trade in the Spice Islands of Maluku during the Age of Discovery. Following three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism, Indonesia secured its independence after World War II. Indonesia's history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, corruption, separatism, a democratization process, and periods of rapid economic change.

Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The Javanese are the largest—and the politically dominant—ethnic group. Indonesia has developed a shared identity defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism within a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism and rebellion against it. Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" ("Unity in Diversity" literally, "many, yet one"), articulates the diversity that shapes the country. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support the world's second highest level of biodiversity. The country is richly endowed with natural resources, yet poverty remains widespread.
From Herald Sun (Australia): Crews scale volcano to reach Indonesian crash site
INDONESIAN searchers with body bags and hoists have scaled a steep volcano to retrieve at least 45 bodies spread over the jungly terrain where a Russian jet crashed during a sales flight.

The crews were using climbing equipment to ascend the near-vertical face of Mount Salak, a dormant volcano south of Jakarta.

They were believed to be about 200 metres from reaching the first bodies, authorities said this afternoon.

All aboard the Sukhoi Superjet 100 were killed, authorities said on Thursday, a day after the plane slammed into the mountain during a flight that was meant to spur international sales of Russia's first post-Soviet civilian jet.

The military commander of the mission said one team was climbing up from the foot of the mountain, while another was going down from the top.

The difficult terrain over the dormant volcano, which juts more than 2,200 metres into the air and is most days shrouded in thick fog, has been an extreme challenge to the searchers.

The mist had stopped helicopters from getting close to the area, since a chopper pilot first spotted the wreckage on Thursday morning, authorities said.

"The plane crashed into the mountain and slid 250m down," said Colonel Anton Mukti Putranto.

"There is so far no information about (the number of) victims. They could see only the debris of the plane because it's still quite a distance from where they are," Putranto said, referring to the team closest to the site.

Ketut Parwa, search and rescue agency chief for the capital Jakarta, said victims would be placed into body bags, hoisted up the mountain, then carried to ambulances a long distance away on foot.

He said helicopters would then fly the bodies to the capital's Halim Perdanakusuma military airport, where authorities have set up a forensics post to identify victims through DNA samples taken from relatives.

The company representing Sukhoi in Indonesia, Trimarga Rekatama, originally said 50 passengers were on board but on Thursday revised the number to 45. Local rescue officials said the plane was carrying 46 people.

Those on board were mostly Indonesian aviation representatives, but there were also eight Russians - four of them crew and four Sukhoi employees - plus an American and a Frenchman, officials said.

The demonstration flight was part of an Asian tour to promote the aircraft, a joint venture between Sukhoi and Italy's Alenia Aeronautica, which made its first commercial flight last year.

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