Death toll in Indonesia bus plunge rises to 35 as more victims found

Rescue workers carry the body of a passenger after a bus fell into a ravine at the Liku Lematang area in Indonesia’s South Sumatran province. (Antara Foto via Reuters)
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Updated 26 December 2019

Death toll in Indonesia bus plunge rises to 35 as more victims found

JAKARTA: At least 35 people were killed when a bus plunged into a ravine in Indonesia, officials said in a new toll Thursday, making it one of the deadliest bus accidents in recent years.

A rescue team in Indonesia’s island of Sumatra on Thursday continued the search for a third day to find more bodies after seven new victims were found in a river late on Wednesday.

According to a passenger manifest, the regional bus left Bengkulu province for Pagar Alam with 27 on board but some survivors told police there were around 50 people inside when the accident happened on Monday just before midnight.

Spokesman for a local rescue team in South Sumatra Taufan, who only goes by one name like many Indonesians, said Thursday that of the 35 people killed, 16 were male and 19 female.

“The rescue team is searching the river 6 kilometers toward the north using rafting,” Taufan told AFP on Thursday.

The team has evacuated at least 13 survivors and the search is still ongoing to find more bodies over fears that some might have been carried away in the river.

At least eight of the passengers killed were children, local police chief Dolly Gumara said Wednesday.

Traffic accidents are common in the Southeast Asian archipelago, where vehicles are often old and poorly maintained and road rules regularly flouted.

In September, at least 21 people died when a bus plunged into a ravine in West Java’s Sukabumi region.

Several months earlier, 12 people were killed and dozens more injured when a passenger tried to wrest control of a bus steering wheel following an argument with the driver on the same toll road in West Java as Thursday’s accident. The bus smashed into two cars, causing a truck to roll.


Ethiopian PM says troops ordered to move on Tigray capital

Updated 47 min 3 sec ago

Ethiopian PM says troops ordered to move on Tigray capital

NAIROBI, Kenya: Ethiopia’s prime minister says the army has been ordered to move on the embattled Tigray capital after his 72-hour ultimatum for Tigray leaders to surrender ended, and he warns residents to “stay indoors.”
The statement Thursday by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office means tanks and other weaponry can now close in on the city of some half-million people. His government has warned of “no mercy” if residents don’t move away from the Tigray leaders in time.
The new statement asserts that thousands of Tigray militia and special forces surrendered during the 72-hour period. “We will take utmost care to protect civilians,” it says.
Communications remain severed to Tigray, making it difficult to verify claims.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below:
The United Nations says shortages have become “very critical” in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region as its population of 6 million remains sealed off and its capital is under threat of attack by Ethiopian forces seeking to arrest the regional leaders.
Fuel and cash are running out, more than 1 million people are now estimated to be displaced and food for nearly 100,000 refugees from Eritrea will be gone in a week, according to a new report released overnight. And more than 600,000 people who rely on monthly food rations haven’t received them this month.
Travel blockages are so dire that even within the Tigray capital, Mekele, the UN World Food Program cannot obtain access to transport food from its warehouses there.
Communications and travel links remain severed with the Tigray region since the deadly conflict broke out on Nov. 4, and now Human Rights Watch is warning that “actions that deliberately impede relief supplies” violate international humanitarian law.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s 72-hour ultimatum for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front leaders to surrender ended Wednesday night. His government has said Mekele is surrounded.
The UN has reported people fleeing the city. Abiy’s government had warned them of “no mercy” if residents didn’t move away from the TPLF leaders who are accused of hiding among the population.
But with communications cut, it’s not clear how many people in Mekele received the warnings. The alarmed international community is calling for immediate de-escalation, dialogue and humanitarian access.
Abiy on Wednesday, however, rejected international “interference.”