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Wed, Dec 08, 2004

Political Row Heats Up Over Indonesia Mishap

Some Lawmakers Want Transport Minister To Resign

As the copilot of a Lion Air MD-82 (file photo of type, below) was transferred from a hospital in Kasih Ibu to another in Jakarta, Indonesia, the flight recorders have been transferred to the US for analysis. And at least one Indonesian political party demanded an immediate review of aviation safety standards and regulations.

The aircraft skidded off the runway at Adi Sumarmo International Airport a week ago, killing as many as 47 passengers. The accident was initially attributed to heavy rains and the inexplicable notion that the flight crew had landed with a tailwind of more than ten knots.

The copilot, 33-year old Steven Liesdek, is the chief surviving witness to the tragedy. But safety investigators will have to wait for several weeks before they can talk with him about the mishap.

"He is not yet stable mentally, as he has suffered a minor concussion. It will take about a month for him to recover fully," Dr. Umar Bahaswan, who treated Liesdek at Kasih Ibu Hospital, told the Indonesian newspaper, Antara. In addition, he had to undergo surgery to set both arms, which were broken in the crash.

It was the worst crash Indonesia has seen since 1997 and now, the National Awakening Party wants the country's House of Representatives to review rules and standards governing aviation safety.

"We urge the House of Representatives to set up an investigative team, the results of which can be used as input for reviewing the Transportation Law," said Rep. Erman Suparno in an interview with the Jakarta Post. The party blamed the current administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, saying it was the tenth aviation accident of his first 100 days in office.

"As a gesture of moral responsibility, the minister of transportation should resign," Erman said.

FMI: www.lionair.co.id

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