Three bodies found after South Korean helicopter crash near disputed islets

Rescuers looking for the bodies of the missing people after the helicopter crash. (File/AFP)
Updated 02 November 2019

Three bodies found after South Korean helicopter crash near disputed islets

  • The helicopter picked up an injured fisherman from Dokdo
  • the machine was found at a depth of 72 meters

SEOUL: South Korean rescuers located three bodies believed to be among seven who went missing after their chopper crashed into the sea shortly after taking off from islets disputed with Japan, officials said Saturday.
The helicopter had just picked an injured fisherman up from Dokdo, which is known as Takeshima in Japan, when it went down on Thursday night.
One body was found inside the chopper located at a depth of 72 meters, 600 meters south of the islets, while the other two were found in the water nearby, a Coast Guard representative told reporters.
The crashed chopper -- which rescuers located on Friday -- sat upside down on the seabed, he said, adding its tail had broken off and had been found 110 metres away.
It was not yet possible to identify the three bodies, he said, adding that a search operation was underway to retrieve them and find the other four still missing.
The bodies were found by an unmanned submarine, although divers would attempt to retrieve them manually for fear using the submarine's "robot-arm" could damage the remains.
"We will do our best till the end to bring those missing back to their families," he added.
Ships and divers from the defense ministry and members of the National Fire Agency and civilian volunteers have been mobilized for the search operation, authorities said.
The crashed chopper is a Eurocopter EC225, made by the European aerospace corporation Airbus.
The seven people on board were five rescuers, the fisherman and a civilian.
Seoul has controlled the islets in the Sea of Japan -- or East Sea -- since 1945, when Tokyo's brutal colonial rule on the peninsula ended, while Japan still claims sovereignty over them.

Jakarta mosques reopen as city eases virus curbs

Muslims attend Friday Prayers at the Great Mosque of Al Azhar in Jakarta, Indonesia, as government eases restrictions amid a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, June 5, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 05 June 2020

Jakarta mosques reopen as city eases virus curbs

  • Mosque capacity reduced to half, with health protocols in place
  • Jakarta remains center of the pandemic in Indonesia

JAKARTA: Mosques in Jakarta welcomed congregations for Friday prayers for the first time after an 11-week shutdown due to coronavirus curbs as the Indonesian capital began to ease control measures.

“I am grateful I can perform Friday prayers again after almost three months,” Ilham Roni, a worshipper at Cut Meutia Mosque in Central Jakarta, told Arab News.

“As a Jakarta resident, I have been complying with city regulations. Now that we can pray again, I follow the health protocols by maintaining social distance, wearing a facial mask and washing my hands (before entering the mosque).”

Mosques are opened by a caretaker 30 minutes before prayer starts and are closed 30 minutes after the conclusion of the congregational prayer.

Caretakers at Al I’thisom Mosque in South Jakarta have been preparing since Tuesday, even before Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan announced on Thursday that the city is extending its COVID-19 restrictions for the third time since measures came into force on April 10.

The capital is easing lockdown curbs in phases, starting with the reopening of places of worship on Friday, although capacity has been halved and strict health protocols put in place.

“We did not know if we would be allowed to reopen the mosque, but we kept preparing to put out markings just in case, and on Thursday we got the confirmation,” one of the mosque caretakers Sumidi, who goes only by one name, told Arab News.

He said the mosque now can only accommodate 400 worshippers out of its normal 1,000 capacity.

Caretakers have put up markings to keep a 1.2-meter distance between worshippers inside the mosque, while in its parking lot, the distance is maintained at 97 cm. Hand-washing facilities have been installed at the entrance.

The governor did not set a fixed date for the extension to end, although the most likely time frame is until the end of June as the city is in a transition mode throughout the month.

Workplaces and businesses with standalone locations can open from June 8, to be followed by non-food retailers in malls and shopping centers from June 15. Recreational parks will be allowed to reopen on June 21.

“Essentially, all activities are allowed to accommodate 50 percent of their normal capacity and by strictly maintaining social distancing measures. The movement of people has to be engineered to meet this criteria,” Baswedan said during a live press conference. “This is the golden rule during the transition phase.”

"If we see a spike in new cases during this phase, the city administration will have to enforce its authority to halt these eased restrictions. It is our ‘emergency brake’ policy,” Baswedan said.

Jakarta remains the center of the pandemic in Indonesia, although infections in the city no longer account for half or more of the national tally, as has been the case since the outbreak was confirmed in Indonesia in early March.

As of June 5, Jakarta accounts for 7,766 cases of infections out of the 29,521 in the national total, with 524 deaths out of 1,770 who have died in the country.

Baswedan said since the introduction of restrictions in mid-March, the city has seen a significant drop in infections and deaths following a peak in mid-April.

But the transition phase depends on the residents’ continued strict compliance with virus-control measures, he said.

“We will evaluate by the end of June. If all indicators are good, we can begin the second phase,” Baswedan said.

“We don’t want to go back to the way it was in the previous month.”