President to Form Special Transport Team

JAKARTA ~ President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered the setting up of a special team to evaluate the country’s transport systems following the latest deadly air and sea disasters.

Search and rescue teams were scouring land and sea for a plane with 102 people on board which went missing on Monday while ships were also searching for hundreds of people still missing after a ferry carrying about 600 passengers and crew sank on Friday.

“After seeing the condition of our national transport in the past 10 years, he (the president) decided to form a national transportation evaluation team, especially to evaluate Indonesia’s maritime and aviation sectors,” Transport Minister Hatta Radjasa told reporters late on Wednesday.

The team would report directly to the president.

“‘Safety first’ should be the basis of evaluating our entire maritime and aviation,” Radjasa said, quoting the president.

The president also requested “stricter monitoring and operation of maritime and air transport” especially after recent extreme weather and the prevailing Tropical Cyclone Isobel off Western Australia.

Yudhoyono also said the search for the aircraft and ferry survivors should continue as long as possible.

Rescue teams usually search for seven days after a disaster.

“The president has instructed that the search and rescue for the two incidents continue as long as possible,” Radjasa said.

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