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Indonesian plane flown by Indian crashes off Jakarta with 189 aboard

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Search and Rescue officers stand on the speed boat carrying debris of passenger jet and body of victims at the Tanjung Priok port, Jakarta, Indonesia, Oct. 29, 2018. (PC-IANS)

Jakarta, Oct 29: An Indonesian Lion Air Boeing passenger plane carrying 189 people and flown by Indian captain Bhavye Suneja crashed into the Java Sea on Monday shortly after taking off from here, with authorities saying they have found no survivor.

The Boeing 737, JT 610, disappeared from the radar 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta airport at 6.20 a.m. while heading for Pangkal Pinang on the Indonesian island Bangka. Flight data showed it made a sudden, sharp dive into the sea, the Jakarta Post reported.

No survivors were found, said a spokesman of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency.

The aircraft, manufactured this year, was commanded by Captain Suneja, with co-pilot Harvino, according to a spokesman of the airline. Authorities said before the crash, the pilot had made a request to return to base.

The Guardian reported that Suneja was from New Delhi and was living in Jakarta with his wife.

Of the 189 on board, two were pilots and six were flight attendants, the National Transportation Safety Commission said in a statement cited by the Jakarta Post. Twenty Indonesian Finance Department officials were also on the flight.

A search and rescue effort was launched for the plane that crashed into the waters of Karawang, about 30-35 metres deep.

“Several pieces of Lion Air JT 610 aircraft (were found),” Head of the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management Sutopo Purwo Nugroho tweeted.

Rescuers released footage of debris and personal items floating in the water at the crash site, including handbags, clothing, mobile phones, ID cards and driver licences. Plane seats were also sighted among the debris.

“We don’t know yet whether there are any survivors,” Search and Rescue Agency head Muhmmad Syaugi told reporters. “We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm.”

According to the Guardian, Suneja’s parents learned of the disaster in the morning and were booked to fly to Jakarta on Monday night. Suneja lived in Jakarta with his wife – they were married two years ago.

“He loved his job, he was very much interested in it,” the daily quoted Kapish Gandhi, the cousin of the pilot, as saying. “We saw it on the television this morning and didn’t know whether to believe it.”

According to the airline spokesman, Suneja had clocked more than 6,000 flight hours while his co-pilot had more than 5,000 flight hours to his credit.

Lion Air chief executive Edward Sirait said the plane reported a technical problem during its previous flight from Denpasar to Jakarta on Sunday night, but that was resolved before it took off on Monday morning.

“The weather was also good, everything was clear before the incident,” he added.

On a request by the pilot to return to base shortly after take off, Sirait said Lion Air was still trying to verify the information. He said Lion Air opened up crisis centres for family members of victims at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport and at the Halim Perdanakusuma Airport.

According to Jakarta-based Elshinta radio, a tugboat had notified the Tanjung Priok Port that it spotted a plane crashing into the water on Monday morning.

Around 160 search and rescue personnel in several ships and helicopters were at the suspected accident site to try to locate survivors and the plane’s black boxes, which will serve later to clarify what happened, Efe news reported.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo said: “I will continue to pray that victims can be found immediately.”

The airline spokesman said the Boeing 737 MAX plane was manufactured this year and had been operated by Lion Air since August 15.

IANS

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Pending India-Bangladesh issues will be resolved: Momen

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AK Abdul Momen

Dhaka, Aug 8 : Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen on Saturday said that India and Bangladesh have resolved major bilateral issues, achieved progress on water sharing and will soon also resolve the other pending issues.

“There are some issues. We will resolve those. Keep faith in us,” he said.

The Minister said that Bangladesh’s relations with India and China should not be compared.

“Bangladesh’s relations with India are rock solid and historic, while Bangladesh has economic ties with China. We must not compare,” he said.

Momen made the remarks after visiting the Mujibnagar Muktijoddha Memorial Complex.

Bangladesh is focusing on its own development, said Momen, adding that both India and China are major partners and Bangladesh wants more trade benefits from India.

Asked about trials of a coronavirus vaccine in Bangladesh, the Foreign Minister said many countries like India and Pakistan have gone in for collaboration.

He said a Chinese company is developing a relationship with ICDDR, which is an institution of 28 countries.

He said the government has contributed to the European Union so that Bangladesh gets a vaccine smoothly.

Momen added that vaccines should not be distributed in an indiscriminate manner and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that it needs to be ensured that no one is left out.

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‘China, Russia, Iran trying to influence US prez election’

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Donald Trump

Washington:  A top US intelligence official has warned that China, Russia and Iran were trying to influence the upcoming American presidential election scheduled to be held on November 3, according to an official statement.

Foreign countries are trying to sway voter preferences, change US policies, “increase discord” in the country “and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process”, the BBC quoted William Evanina, head of the National Counter-intelligence and Security Center (NCSC), as saying in the statement released on Friday.

The counter-intelligence chief however added that it would be “difficult for our adversaries to interfere with or manipulate voting results at scale”.

Many countries “have a preference for who wins the election”, he said, adding they were however “primarily concerned” about China, Russia and Iran:

According to Evanina, China “prefers that President (Donald) Trump, whom Beijing sees as unpredictable, does not win re-election”, and has been “expanding its influence efforts” ahead of the vote

Regarding Russia, the intelligence official said in the statement that Moscow was seeking to “denigrate” presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s candidacy and other members of a perceived “anti-Russia ‘establishment’”.

Evanina added that some other actors linked to Russia “are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television”

Meanwhile, Iran is trying to “undermine US democratic institutions”,Trump, and “divide the country” ahead of the vote by spreading disinformation and “anti-US content” online.

The development comes amid claims by Trump about the dangers of mail-in or postal ballots. He has suggested that the vote be delayed to prevent “the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history”, prompting a backlash even among members of his own Republican Party, reports the BBC.

It also follows complaints by Democratic lawmakers that US intelligence agencies are not releasing information to the public about foreign interference in this year’s vote.

(IANS)

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Saudi holds back oil to Pak after Qureshi’s threat to split OIC

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Shah Mehmood Qureshi

Islamabad/New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) Saudi Arabia has halted the provision of oil on loan for Pakistan after the Imran Khan government threatened to split the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) over Kashmir.

Hit by a severe economic crisis, Pakistan had borrowed a $6.2 billion loan from Saudi Arabia in 2018.

The loan package included a provision under which Saudi Arabia granted Pakistan $3.2 billion worth of oil, a year on deferred payments.

Pakistani media on Saturday said that the provision meant for Islamabad expired two months ago and has not been renewed by Riyadh.

Instead, Islamabad has prematurely returned $1 billion Saudi loan, four months ahead of repayment period, The Express Tribune said quoting sources and Sajid Qazi, the spokesperson of the Petroleum Division.

Recently Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi during a talk show on a news channel had threatened that if the OIC headed by Saudi Arabia did not convene a foreign ministers’ meeting on Kashmir, Prime Minister Imran Khan would hold it on his own with his allies among the Islamic countries.

“If you cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir…,” he had threatened on Ary news channel.

The OIC, the biggest bloc of Islamic countries in the world, has repeatedly declined Islamabad’s several requests to hold a meeting on Indian Kashmir — a region which Pakistan Army attempted to invade four times in the last seven decades and where it has been waging a proxy war against India for last three decades.

Since August 2019 when India revoked special status of the Jammu and Kashmir state and brought it directly under the control of the Central government by bifurcating it into two Union Territories, the Imran Khan government has been seeking support of the 57-member OIC over the issue in Pakistan’s favour.

One of the major reasons for OIC’s lack of support for Pakistan has been Riyadh’s displeasure with Islamabad’s proximity with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who nurtures the ambition of replacing Saudi Arabia as leader of all the Sunni Islamic countries.

–IANS

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