Two Americans die in Great Barrier Reef chopper crash

Above, an aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of the Whitsunday Islands, along the central coast of Queensland in this 2014 photo. (AFP)
Updated 22 March 2018

Two Americans die in Great Barrier Reef chopper crash

SYDNEY: Two elderly American tourists have been killed in a helicopter crash at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, police said Thursday, despite onlookers’ desperate attempts to revive the pair.
The 79-year-old man and 65-year-old women died when the chopper went down near a pontoon on the reef off popular tourist hotspot Airlie Beach late Wednesday. Two other passengers, also from the United States, and the pilot survived with minor injuries.
“As a result of that crash, emergency services have attended and an independent, transparent and robust investigation is currently underway,” local police inspector Ian Haughton said.
There was no indication of what caused the crash but Haughton said the probe would look at the mechanical servicing of the helicopter, what happened at the scene that may have been a contributing factor, and any possibility of error.
Witnesses on a nearby dive platform helped drag the passengers from the water, the Brisbane Courier Mail reported, performing resuscitation under phone instruction from emergency services who were an hour away from the remote site in Queensland’s Whitsunday region.
But the two Americans could not be saved.
“It’s just gut-wrenching. It’s not good. My deepest sympathies goes out to those who lost their lives and those that were injured,” Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox told broadcaster ABC.
“I know most of the tourism operators in the Whitsundays personally and I know they all hold their passenger experience and safety as their number one priority, so it will be a somber day for us in the Whitsundays.”
The company that operated the helicopter, reportedly Whitsunday Air Services, has suspended operations.


Indonesia’s Indrawati to stay on as finance minister

Updated 1 min 35 sec ago

Indonesia’s Indrawati to stay on as finance minister

  • Widodo has since Monday tapped more than a dozen candidates for ministerial posts
  • Indrawati, a former managing director of the World Bank, has been finance minister in Southeast Asia’s largest economy since 2016

JAKARTA: Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Tuesday she had been asked by President Joko Widodo to stay on in her post as his new cabinet takes shape for a second five-year term in office.

Widodo has since Monday tapped more than a dozen candidates for ministerial posts, including his presidential election rival Prabowo Subianto, who looks set to be defense minister.

The candidates — all wearing white shirts — have come to the presidential palace to be interviewed by Widodo, with most declining to confirm the positions offered ahead of an official announcement expected on Wednesday.

After meeting Widodo, Indrawati said she had agreed to stay on as finance minister and to ensure policies supported the president’s priorities such as improving human resources, creating jobs and executing government budgets well.

“Indonesia I think is facing a very dynamic and uncertain global economy and an economic slowdown that is pressuring the whole world,” Indrawati said.

“Therefore, a continued policy is needed in order to be able to guard our economy from the challenge of this global slowdown,” she said, noting she also discussed ways to narrow Indonesia’s current account and trade deficits.

Indrawati, a former managing director of the World Bank, has been finance minister in Southeast Asia’s largest economy since 2016, spearheading tax reform efforts, seeking to capitalize on a tax amnesty program in 2016-2017. She is now one of the longest serving finance ministers in Indonesia, having also held the post in the previous administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

“Sri Mulyani is seen as a key architect behind the fiscal discipline in recent years and many wish for her continued leadership in driving deeper fiscal reforms,” Bank of America wrote in a note.

The make-up of the cabinet is being closely watched to see how many technocrats — who are more likely to fall in with Widodo’s plans for boosting growth and investment — were included.

Other ministerial candidates who came to the palace on Tuesday included Basuki Hadimuljono, who is credited with driving infrastructure projects as public works minister in Widodo’s first term, and Siti Nurbaya Bakar, environment minister in the first term.

On Monday, Nadiem Makarim, the chief executive of tech startup Gojek and media tycoon Erick Thohir, a former chairman of Italian soccer club Inter Milan, were among those confirming they had been asked to join the cabinet.

Speaking to media ahead of his inauguration on Sunday, Widodo said around 16 ministers in the new cabinet would come from political parties out of an anticipated 34 posts.