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The 8.9-magnitude quake took place in Simeulue district, Aceh, at 3:38 p.m. Western Indonesia Time (WIB) (2238 GMT), with the epicenter located at 2.3 degrees northern latitude and 92.6 degrees eastern longitude at a depth of 10 km.
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Office (BMKG) recorded several aftershocks after the initial earthquake, but their intensity continues to lessen.
It was followed by a magnitude-8.5 aftershock in Aceh at 3.38 pm, and a magnitude-6.5 at 4:28 p.m. at 1.21 degrees northern latitude and 91.72 eastern longitude, about 510 km southwest of Simeulue district at a depth of 42 km, the BMKG officer Riyadi said in Pekanbaru, Riau province.
Another aftershock, measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale, struck at 4.48 pm at a depth of 630 km southwest of Simeulue, Aceh.
At 5:09 p.m. a magnitude 6.1 aftershock occurred again, followed by another tremor measuring 5.7 at 5.21 p.m.
In Pekanbaru, BMKG released a tsunami warning to five provinces in the coastal areas of Sumatra island covering Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Bengkulu and Lampung on Wednesday.
The statement was released after an 8.5 Richter scale of earthquake hit Simeulue district, about 180 nautical miles to the south of Banda Aceh, capital of Aceh province on Wednesday at 03.38 pm Western Indonesia Standard Time (WIB).
On Monday night (Jan 30) an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale jolted Simeulue, BMKG said.
According to an official from the social affairs ministry, there have been no reports of damage or deaths following the 8,9 magnitude quake in Simeulue, Aceh, at around 3.38pm on Wednesday. 1
"We have made radio contact with Tagana and the local social affairs service in Simeulue1 and have been informed that conditions in the district generally remained stable and no damage or death had been found,2" Victor Siahaan, the head of the sub-directorate of emergency response of the Directorate General of Social Protection of Natural Disaster Victims, said in Jakarta on Wednesday.
He noted that his office has been monitoring the affected regions3 especially those located close to the epicenter of the quake such as Nias, Sibolga and Padang Sidempuan in North Sumatra and West Aceh, Simeulue and Banda Aceh in Aceh province.
"The situation now seems stable, although it was undeniable the quake had caused panic among the public, who ran to higher grounds for safety," he said
The magnitude-8.9 earthquake disturbed the operation of two power generators with a combined capacity of 130 MW in Belawan (Medan, North Sumatra) and in Aceh.
Spokesman of state-owned electricity company PLN, Bambang Dwiyanto said in Jakarta on Wednesday that power supplies to some customers in Aceh and North Sumatra were cut off.
"PLN officials worked immediately to normalize the power supplies and to restore the power conditions although aftershocks were still going on," Bambang said.
He said electricity supply was badly needed to help restore conditions after the quake.
Bambang explained that some 100 MW capacity of the North Sumatra`s steam power plant`s 800 MW was disturbed. In Aceh, the supply of some 30 MW of the Aceh`s diesel power generator was cut off.
Meanwhile, Banda Aceh was earlier reported to be out of lights after a strong earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale struck the province on Wednesday.
In Bengkulu, the local people in coastal area of the city started evacuating themselves amid the tsunami warning released by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).
The tsunami warning was released shortly after an 8.9 Richter scale of earthquake hit Simeulue district, Aceh province, at 03.38 pm.
In the meantime, Reuters reported from Bangkok, Thailand on Wednesday that the international airport on the southern Thai tourist island of Phuket was closed on Wednesday after a tsunami warning was issued following an 8.7 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, its director said.
"We have temporarily closed the airport following the tsunami alert," Phuket International Airport Director Prateung Sornkham told Reuters by telephone.2
People in Phuket, Krabi, Ranong, Phangnga, Trang and Satun were earlier ordered to move to higher ground because of a possible tsunami, disaster prevention officials said.
Thailand has cancelled a tsunami warning in six of the country`s Andaman coast provinces that was issued after a huge earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia, a cabinet minister said on Wednesday.3
"After checking all information, we found that the situation is stable. There was a small tsunami, but there was no impact," Information and Communication Technology Anudith Nakornthap told a televised news conference.
In addition, the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPM) detected minor scale of tsunami measuring one-meter high in Lahewa Nias Utara (North Sumatra) and another 1.02 meter high in Meulaboh, West Aceh district.
On December 26, 2004, a 9.3-magnitude quake hit Aceh province and Nias Island in North Sumatra which caused huge tsunami, leaving hundred thousands of people died and went missing.
Meanwhile, head of the BMKG Center for the Earthquake and Tsunami, Suhardjono said here on Wednesday night that his office had officially lifted the tsunami early warning. (*)
RI racing against time to meet MDG targets by andi abdussalam - (d)
"Achieving the MDG by 2015 concerns the nation`s dignity in the international arena," Vice President Boediono told the National Consolidation of Indonesian Parliament`s Women`s Caucus over the weekend.
Along with Indonesia, 189 nations made a promise to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations. This pledge comprised the eight MDG to be achieved by 2015.
The aim of the MDG is to encourage development by improving social and economic conditions in the world`s poorest countries and to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce children mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other disease; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership in development.
However, the country has fallen behind in finishing three targets of the MDG 2015, including maternal mortality rates, HIV/AIDS eradication programmes, and access to drinking water and basic sanitation.
Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih said recently that Indonesia had to catch up on its MDG targets in the coming three years. She noted that of the eight goals, five were in the health sector.
"We have to work hard to achieve the targets in the coming three years. We should not work as if it were business as usual. Innovation, breakthrough, and focus must be made on priority activities," Endang was quoted on the official website of the Health Services of the East Kalimantan Province.
She acknowledged that Indonesia still had to work hard to lower the mortality rate of mothers during labour to 120 per 100,000 live births.
The Indonesian Basic Health Survey (SDKI) 2007 results showed that mothers` mortality rate reached 228 per 100,000 per live births, higher than the MDG target of 161 per live births in 2015.
The same case is also true for the mortality rate of children less than five years old (Balita). Last year, the mortality rate of infants aged 0-11 months was about 34 per 1,000 live births, higher than the MDG target of 23 per 1,000 live births.
But Endang stated that Indonesia`s efforts to reduce the mortality rate of Balita to two-thirds from the 1990 conditions were on track. "The death rates of infants and Balitas have continued to decline," she argued.
However, the minister said that neonatal mortality rate needed attention. "Neonatal mortality rate tends to be stagnant. Nutritional intake and infection are two significant factors affecting the life of infants. Research showed in 2007 that 36 percent of infant deaths were caused by neonatal problems, 17.2 percent by diarrhoea, and 13.2 percent by pneumonia," she added.
With regard to other diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, the country still faces hurdles to stopping their spread and reducing the number of cases.
Particularly with respect to HIV/AIDS, the government is very concerned because the number of carriers is still high, reaching 200,000 in 2011.
World leaders have been committed to halt this killer disease by 2015 and to begin reversing its spread. Yet, the number of cases worldwide has continued to increase.4 In 2009, for example, 33.3 million people were living with HIV. The same year, some 2.6 million people became newly infected and 1.8 million died of AIDS, including 260,000 children.
According to Endang, HIV/AIDS has spread further in the country because people in the high-risk group still lack knowledge about the virus.4 She said that they must increase their knowledge about HIV/AIDS, adding that people in risk group, such as sex workers, should be well-informed about the use of condoms.
Therefore, the government has to provide accurate information on how to overcome the spread of HIV/AIDS disease, give treatment to HIV/AIDS carriers, and reduce narcotics abuse which could have impact on the spread of the disease.5
For this, Vice President Boediono, on the occasion of World HIV/AIDS Day last November, expressed hope that all parties, including businesses, non-governmental organizations, workers, and the people in general, must take active part in the fight to eliminate the disease.
He said that the government was now active in fighting HIV/AIDS, which was one of the main MDG goals in the health sector.
"Let us safeguard the MDG goals in the health sector in our country and renew our commitment to the achievement," he added.(*)
Govt to limit subsidized fuel for private cars
The plan seeks to keep subsidized fuel consumption equal to the quota of 40 million kiloliters set in the revised 2012 state budget.
The Director General of Oil and Gas at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, Evita Legowo, said on Wednesday that the planned limitation of subsidized fuel consumption would be based upon the engine capacity of private cars, though not all private autos would be subjected to the policy.
"The policy will be started in Java and Bali where infrastructures are ready," she said.
Currently, private cars consume more subsidized premium gasoline than any other cars in the country, reaching about 53 percent of the total consumption.
Evita feared if subsidized fuel consumption was not controlled it would soar to 46-47 million kiloliters from the assumed consumption of 40 million kiloliters in the state budget.
However, the policy will not apply to motorcycles, where there are tens of millions across the country.
Also, the energy and mineral resources minister would soon issue a regulation to serve as a legal basis for the limitation of subsidized fuel consumption, she said, adding, "We hope the regulation would be issued in April or early May 2012."
The regulation will be a follow-up to Presidential Regulation No. 15 of 2012 on retail prices and consumers of certain fuels. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed the regulation on February 7, 2012.
Officials from state oil and gas company Pertamina said on Wednesday that the company needs time to implement the policy.
"If the regulation is to be issued in May, it will take us two to three months to make preparations. So, it could only be implemented starting in July or August 2012," Mochamad Harun, Pertamina`s vice president for corporate communications, said.
Since the government, for the first time, introduced the plan, Pertamina has been waiting for the issuance of the regulation, he said. "Based upon the regulation, Pertamina will prepare what needs to be raised, be it investment or others."5
He further said Pertamina had prepared tanks for non-subsidized pertamax gasoline at its fuel depots. "But because the plan has been put on hold, we will now fill them with premium gasoline,"6 he said.
With the number of motorcycles and cars continually growing, subsidized fuel consumption this year is likely to exceed the quota of 40 million kiloliters.
Harun said in Amlapura, Bali, on Wednesday that the nation`s subsidized fuel oil quota of 40 million kiloliters for 2012 will only be enough to meet consumption until the third week of October.
"The national quota of subsidized fuel oils for 2012 has fallen to 40 million kiloliters from more than 41 million kiloliters last year.
If subsidized fuel consumption continues to increase, the government-set quota of 40 million kiloliters will fall short of needs until the end of this year," he said.
Just in the first quarter of 2012, subsidized fuel consumption nationwide reached 10.7 million kiloliters, he added.
Normally, fuel oil consumption begins to increase in the second quarter when manufacturing industries, government projects and tourism increases significantly, he said.
"If the quota of subsidized fuel oils is not to be raised while consumption remains high, we predict it will be enough until the third quarter of 2012," he said.
To anticipate the possibility of the quota falling short of the nation`s needs, the government must increase the quota by 7 million kiloliters to 47 million kiloliters, he said.
"Pertamina expects the House of Representatives and the government will increase the quota of subsidized fuel oils so it will not run out before the end of this year. We have warned the government on the matter,6" he said.
A rise in the quota of subsidized fuels means that the government must allocate extra funds for fuel subsidies, which will eventually add to the burden of the state budget.
Under the revised 2012 state budget, the government is allowed to raise the prices of subsidized fuels if the Indonesia Crude Price (ICP) is 15 percent higher than the assumed price in the state budget during a six month period.
Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo said early this month fuel subsidies would increase by a range of Rp4 trillion to Rp5 trillion per month if the subsidized fuel price is not raised this year.
Therefore, the use of subsidized fuel should not miss the target and the diversification of energy should be encouraged in order to retain the fuel subsidy target of Rp137.4 trillion in the revised 2012 state budget, he said.
"We will safeguard and control the use of subsidized fuel so that it`s used in an orderly manner. We will also try to restrict and control the use of subsidized fuel and encourage the use of alternative energy," he said.
If the fuel subsidy needed to be increased, the government would use Rp30.6 trillion in funds originally planned for compensation for the poor in the event of the fuel price hike, he added.
"If the fuel price is not raised, we can reallocate the compensation fund, amounting to Rp30.6 trillion (for fuel subsidy)," he noted.
He also said that if the price of subsidized fuel is not raised, subsidized fuel consumption might exceed the quota of 40 million kiloliters, as a result of illegal hoarding and smuggling.
"We ask 520 regional governments (across the country) to make the effort to prevent people from hoarding and smuggling fuel. We must uphold the law," he said.
However, if the use of subsidized fuel cannot be controlled, global crude prices continue to increase, and budget allocations for fuel subsidies exceed the target, then the government is likely to submit another draft revision of the 2012 state budget to the House of Representatives, he said.(*)
A series of shooting incidents by armed gangs have occurred in Indonesia`s eastern most province of Papua over the past several years, killing over a dozen people and injuring many others. 7
But, it was the first time that a commercial flight has become a target of a fatal shooting in the province, which has seen a rise in separatist issues. 7
Latoge Kogoya, a reporter of Papua Pos daily of Nabire, was shot in the neck and died, while the four injured people included the airplane`s pilot, Bebi Astekyang, who was hit in the leg, and co-pilot Willy, who was wounded by a bullet fragment in one of his fingers and was unable to control the flight, causing the plane to crash into a building at the airport.
Two wounded passengers included a four-year old boy and his mother. The injured victims were immediately rushed to Mulia public hospital.
The Twin Otter plane, belonging to Trigana Air, has been serving flight routes to remote areas in Papua.
"So far, the (Trigana Air`s) planes have never been involved in an incident.8 Trigana has been operating in Papua since I was posted there in the 1990s,9 and there has never been any disturbance.10 The planes are used to distribute logistics, such as food and fuel," Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto said in Jakarta on Monday.
Papua is a vast mountainous province that depends on commercial flights to transport needed supplies, particularly to remote areas.
Minister Djoko stated that the shooting in Papua is an act of terror by those seeking to stop development in Papua.
"Such a crime must be stopped," Minister Djoko said at Halim Perdanakusuma airbase, eastern Jakarta.
The armed group`s members must be investigated and arrested, he added, saying that such a crime must never happen again.
"I don`t care whether the perpetrators are members of OPM (separatist Free Papua Movement) or an armed group. For sure, they have committed a crime against the civilians in Papua and could hamper development in Papua," Djoko said.8
Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said in Jakarta on Monday that security authorities are continuing to investigate whether the gunmen involved in the Sunday airplane shooting in Papua were separatists or criminals.
"We must investigate the shooting incident at Mulia airport in Puncak Jaya (Papua Province). If the perpetrators are separatists, TNI (Indonesian Defense Forces) will deal with them, but if they are criminals, then the police will handle them. We are still waiting for the report (from security authorities in Papua) on who committed (the shooting)," Purnomo.
The minister noted that TNI has not deployed additional personnel to Papua,9 but is relying on the existing four TNI battalions stationed in the Papua border area.
"For the troops from outside, they are only deployed in the border area. We have four battalions in the border area," he said.
The National Police (Polri) has deployed officers in Puncak Jaya, particularly in southern PT Freeport area, Papua Province, to apprehend the perpetrators.10
"All police officers in Papua, with the support of TNI, have taken investigative measures led by Puncak Jaya Police Chief Alek Korwa," Polri Chief General Timur Pradopo said on the sidelines of the commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU) at Halim Perdana Kusuma air force base, Monday.
The general did not mention the exact number of officers being deployed in Puncak Jaya. He said, however, that more officers were being sent to remote areas.
Earlier on Sunday, Puncak Jaya Police chief Adjunct Senior Commissioner Alek Korwa stated in Papua that police and military personnel were hunting unidentified gunmen who shot at the Twin Otter airplane.
"Security officers are chasing the armed gang members. But we have a problem because they are hiding in a mountainous area near the airport," Alek Korwa said.
Security officers from Papua Police Mobile Brigade and from TNI are assigned to apprehend the armed gang members, he added.
Alhabsyi said in Jakarta Monday that the national police must improve their performance in maintaining security and in carrying out law enforcement in Papua because there have been many shooting incidents in the country`s eastern most province over the past few years. 11
TNI must be involved in dealing with the violence that has threatened the nation`s security and sovereignty, he said. 12
"We all know that we have serious work there, particularly concerning the OPM (separatist group)," he said.
In 2011, there were at least 13 shooting incidents that killed, among others, seven employees of US gold and copper mining company PT Freeport Indonesia, and five other civilians were injured. Also, two members of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) and one police officer was wounded.
"In 2010, an armed group shot at a PT Freeport five-car convoy, injuring seven people, including an American citizen. In 2009, I recorded 17 shooting incidents that killed five civilians, one police officer, and four Freeport employees," he said.
The lawmaker added that in 2010, 28 people were the victims of gunshot wounds. This included 20 employees, two military officers and four police members.
The latest airplane shooting was the third shooting incident in Papua this year, as two employees of PT Kuala Pelabuhan Indonesia, a contractor of PT Freeport Indonesia, were killed in January 2012 and a police officer was critically injured in March 2012.(*)
Sekian dan Terimakasih---