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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15, 2018 (MENA) - The defence ministers of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines have agreed to look into strengthening their ground forces through conducting military training as an added initiative to solidify their Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement (TCA), the Malaysian Bernama news agency reported on Saturday.

This was among the outcome of their meeting held at the Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City, the Philippines, where Malaysia was represented by Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu, said a statement by the Malaysian Ministry of Defence.

It took place in conjunction with his official visit to the country from September 12 to 14, the ministry added.

“The minister reaffirmed Malaysia's strong commitment towards ensuring the continued implementation of the TCA that the three countries have established,” the ministry added.

BANDUNG, Indonesia, Sept 8, 2018 (News Wires) - At least 21 people died and several others were injured when a bus carrying domestic tourists crashed and plunged into a ravine on the Indonesian island of Java, police said on Saturday.

The crash happened when the bus with 37 people on board was heading to a holiday spot in Sukabumi region, West Java.

The vehicle was seen speeding downhill and lost control before plunging into a 10-metre-deep ravine.

"There were 37 people on the bus, 21 of them died while the rest were injured," Galih Bayu Raditya, head of the traffic unit at the local police precinct, told AFP.

Victims who were injured had been taken to several local hospitals.

"We believe the accident happened because the brake failed to function," Raditya said, adding that the vehicle's road-worthy certificate had expired in 2016

The bus was part of a four-bus tour from Jakarta heading to a rafting spot in Pelabuhan Ratu, Sukabumi.

Passengers from other buses who arrived safely at the destination told the police they had seen smoke coming from the engine of the bus before it embarked on the journey.

Authorities have issued repeated warnings that the route where the accident occurred was not suitable for buses due to the narrowness of the road and multiple tight corners.

On Friday, another bus carrying 21 people also crashed in the same region, killing one and injuring the rest.

KEDIRI, Indonesia , August 28, 2018 (News Wires) - Every year, Indonesians from teens and grandads, to mechanics and students, gather in eastern Java to celebrate their love of the iconic Italian Vespa scooter.

For some, it’s an “extreme” kind of love, where the vehicles are customised to resemble metallic monster bikes straight out of a Hollywood dystopia.

Hundreds of enthusiasts travel to the festival in Kediri to show off their creations - ranging from restored vintage Vespas to Mad Max-style tanks fitted with fake machine guns, a dozen extra tyres, or eerie stuffed toys as hood ornaments.

To enter into competitions at the festival, every customised vehicle must have a Vespa engine and most contestants try to retain the brand’s iconic fairing - the curved front of the scooter.

But other embellishments are up to the owners and their budgets. While many can only afford scrap metal or reused material found at a junkyard, some others splash out.

Peded, a 43-year-old grandfather who has been modifying Vespas since the 1990s, says he likes his scooter to “tell a story”.

“I love decorating Vespas to the extreme, but I don’t like using trash,” said Peded, whose Vespa sports massive buffalo horns from the Toraja tribal land on Sulawesi island.

The three-day festival, now in its third year, is one of several held across the country. Highlights include a contest to pick the best-looking entry and dirt-track races for the speedier bikes.

The enthusiasts attract glances and smiles from locals because of the designs of their elaborate Vespas.

As the vehicles are often unlicensed, many travel at night to avoid traffic police. Mechanical problems arise, with some of the more ramshackle machines often breaking down.

Mostly, the gatherings are about catching up with fellow Vespa-lovers and having fun.

“We are independent, but we gather like a community,” said Julia Ningsih, 19.

“Extreme Vespa guys, we stick together. If we have trouble on the road, they will wait and help us out until we can ride again,” she added.

JAKARTA, August 25, 2018 (News Wires) - Tejinderpal Singh Toor clinched the men's shot put gold with a record-shattering throw to open India's medal account in athletics in the Asian Games here today.

The 23-year-old threw the iron ball to 20.75m to win the gold and set a national record as well. He bettered the six-year-old record of 20.69m in the name of Om Prakash Karhana.

Toor's effort was also an Asian Games record.

Toor lived up to the billing of being the strongest contender as he was the season leade.

China's Liu Yang took the silver with a best throw of 19.52m while Ivan Ivanov of Kazakhstan won the bronze with 19.40m.

SEMBALUN, Indonesia, August 19, 2018 (AP) — A strong earthquake jolted the Indonesian island of Lombok on Sunday, causing landslides on Mount Rinjani and damaging buildings, as it tries to recover from a temblor earlier this month that killed 460 people.

The US Geological Survey measured the quake, which was centered in the northeast of the tourist island, at magnitude 6.3 and a depth of 7 kilometers. It was felt on the neighbouring island of Bali and was preceded a few minutes earlier by a magnitude 5.4 quake, also in Lombok's northeast.

An Associated Press reporter on Lombok said the tremor caused landslides on the slopes of Rinjani and panic in villages. Video shot by the Indonesian Red Cross showed huge clouds of dust billowing from the mountain's slopes.

The shaking toppled motorcycles and there was damage to buildings in Sembalun subdistrict, including a community hall that collapsed. It had sustained damage in earlier quakes, said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. Homes and a mosque were also damaged, he said.

He said so far there have been no reports of injuries or fatalities but information is still being collected.

A magnitude 7.0 quake on Aug. 5 killed 460 people, damaged tens of thousands of homes and displaced several hundred thousand people on Lombok.

Mount Rinjani has been closed to visitors following a July earthquake that killed 16 people, triggered landslides and stranded hundreds of tourists on the mountain, an active volcano.

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago that straddles the Pacific "Ring of Fire," is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

JAKARTA, August 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Indonesia president Joko Widodo declared the 18th Asian Games open in a glittering ceremony on Saturday, launching what promises to be a frenetic fortnight of breathless sporting action featuring the best of the continent's athletes.

Some 13,000 athletes will compete in 40 sports and 67 disciplines, including new additions such as bridge, jet skiing and roller skating in the biggest multi-sport extravaganza outside the Olympics.

"I hereby declare the 18th Asian Games 2018 open," Widodo said in front of a 50,000-plus crowd at the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium.

Esports debuts as an official demonstration sport in Indonesia, which volunteered to host the Games after Vietnam pulled out in 2014 because of financial concerns.

North and South Korea marched together at the opening ceremony and will field joint teams in several events. Kuwait will participate under their own flag a couple of days after the International Olympic Committee lifted their ban.

The Games, which conclude on Sept. 2, are the first co-hosted by two cities with Palembang on the island of Sumatra acting as venue for some sports along with the capital Jakarta.

 

JAKARTA, August 13, 2018 (News Wires) - Indonesia's holiday island of Lombok suffered damage running into more than $342 million from last week's huge earthquake, authorities said on Monday, as the death toll climbed to more than 430.

More than 350,000 people fled their homes after the 6.9-magnitude quake to shelter in government-provided tents or makeshift structures in open fields. Authorities say aid is slow in getting to some of the hardest-hit areas as they are remote.

"The damage and losses are huge," Sutopo Nugroho, the spokesman of Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said in a statement.

"It will take trillions of rupiah...and a lot of time to heal the lives of the people and the economy of Nusa Tenggara Barat," he said, referring to the province home to Lombok.

Residential homes and public infrastructure suffered the bulk of the damage, he added.

On Monday, President Joko Widodo visited the island, which lies just east of Bali, the southeast Asian country's most famous tourist destination, for the second time since a slightly smaller quake on July 29.

He has called for search operations and relief efforts to be stepped up.

"I have ordered that the evacuation of victims who have not yet been found be made a priority," Widodo said in a statement at the weekend.

JAYAPURA, Indonesia, August 12, 2018 (News Wires) — A 12-year-old boy is the only survivor from the crash of a light commercial plane in a mountainous region of Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua that left eight other passengers dead, rescuers said Sunday.

The Swiss-made Pilatus PC-6 Porter single-engine plane operated by Dimonin Air was reported missing Saturday during a 45-minute flight from Tanah Merah in Boven Digul district to Oksibil, the district capital of Pegunungan Bintang, bordering Papua New Guinea. The local army chief said Sunday the plane crashed near Oksibil airport.

Col. Jonathan Binsar Sianipar said the boy, identified only as Jumaidi, was the only passenger found alive and was evacuated to the Oksibil hospital. A statement from the army said the boy was conscious but gave no other details.

The plane with two pilots and seven passengers lost contact after communicating with the control tower in Oksibil just before it was due to land Saturday afternoon, said local police chief Lt. Col. Michael Mumbunan.

The cause of the crash was not clear.

Airplanes are the only practical way of accessing many areas in the mountainous and jungle-clad easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua.

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation, with more than 260 million people, has been plagued by transportation accidents on land, sea and air because of overcrowding on ferries, aging infrastructure and poorly enforced safety standards.

MATARAM, Indonesia, August 11, 2018 (News Wires) - An earthquake on the Indonesian island of Lombok has killed 387 people, authorities said Saturday, adding hundreds of thousands of displaced people were still short of clean water, food and medicine nearly a week on.

The shallow 6.9-magnitude quake Sunday levelled tens of thousands of homes, mosques and businesses across Lombok, just one week after another tremor surged through the island and killed 17.

"It's predicted the death toll will continue to grow because there are still victims who are suspected of being buried by landslides and under rubble, and there are victims that have not been recorded and reported to posts," national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

The number forced from their homes in the disaster has soared to 387,000, Nugroho said, with around 13,000 injured.

The hardest hit region of Lombok has been in the north, where 334 people have died and nearly 200,000 have been forced from their homes, according to latest official tolls.

Two people were also killed by the quake on the neighbouring tourist island of Bali.

Nugroho said the emergency response period has been extended another 14 days, which would allow authorities to deal with the "many problems" that still existed in the field.

Most of the displaced are sleeping under tents or tarpaulins near their ruined homes or in evacuation shelters, while makeshift medical facilities have been set up to treat the injured.

Six days after the quake hit some evacuees have still not received assistance, particularly in the mountainous north of the island.

"The main problem is the distribution of supplies to thousands of refugee points," Nugroho said.

"Most of the roads in North Lombok were damaged by the earthquake."

Survivors of the quake have been shaken by hundreds of aftershocks, including a shallow 5.9-magnitude quake Thursday which caused people to flee evacuation shelters crying and screaming.

 

JAKARTA, Aug 6, 2018 (News Wires) — Indonesian president Joko Widodo led some 65,000 of his compatriots in a mass dance through the streets of Jakarta yesterday to promote the Asian Games and try to set a world record along the way.

Jakarta and the city of Palembang on Sumatra will jointly host Asia's biggest sporting event from August 18 but President Widodo has previously complained about the lack of promotion and enthusiasm in the country.

In a bid to drum up support ahead of the games authorities turned to the poco-poco, a traditional line dance from North Sulawesi province.

Dressed in white and red — the colour of the Indonesian flag — President Widodo, his wife Iriana, and several high ranking officials led tens of thousands of Indonesians in a long, snaking line of dancers through the capital.

Organisers hope to break the world record for the largest number of people performing the traditional dance in one place and said 65,000 people took part in Jakarta.

“Poco-poco is the original culture of Indonesia and it's a native dance, so we are now performing a mass Poco-poco dance with 65,000 people setting the world record showing and reiterating Poco-poco belongs to Indonesia,” police chief Tito Karnavian who took part in the event said.

Police and military staff, members of parliament, students, members of fitness centres as well as inmates in jails across Indonesia all showed their best Poco-poco moves at the same.

“This a very good opportunity to show that Indonesia is conserving its traditions,” high school student Raja Farid Akbar said. “I am happy that I can help promote a tradition that could have been forgotten.”

About 11,000 athletes and 5,000 officials from 45 Asian countries are expected to flock to Jakarta and Palembang for the August 18 to September 2 Games, the world's biggest multi-sport event behind the Olympics.

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