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. Flights To Avoid Indonesian Mud Volcano Postponed

In this file picture taken 27 June 2006, a flow of hot mud gushing from the earth is seen in in Sidoarjo, East Java. Indonesian police said 25 July 2006 they have named three company executives as suspects over the massive flow of hot mud near a gas well that inundated about 160 hectares (395 acres) of land, including four villages, vast ricefields, sugar cane plantations and forced thousands to flee their homes. Lapindo, the company operating the well, is linked to a business group owned by Welfare Minister Aburizal Bakrie's family. It has agreed to compensate the more than 7,600 people displaced by the sludge. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) Jan 18, 2007
An Indonesian airline offering short flights to avoid a "mud volcano" that has inundated villages on the island of Java was Thursday forced to suspend its maiden flight due to technical problems, a report said. Sriwijaya Air had to postpone to January 29 the launch of its route between the cities of Malang and Surabaya in East Java, the official Antara news agency said.

"The suspension is simply due to technical problem because the Air Transportation Directorate General conducted an unscheduled inspection in relation with air-worthiness," the airline's Malang district manager M. Yusri said.

Indonesian airlines have come under closer scrutiny following the disappearance of an Adam Air plane carrying 102 people on New Year's Day.

The service was designed to allow passengers travelling between the two cities to avoid the inundated Sidoarjo district, which lies between them.

The land trip used to take about two hours but now takes five due to the mud flow, which has damaged a major toll road and railway tracks.

"Given the obstructed land transportation between Surabaya and Malang due to the incessant mud flow, we came up with the idea of introducing a short flight as an alternative to land transportation," Purnadi said.

A gas well operated by Lapindo Brantas Inc. has spewed steaming mud since May last year, submerging villages and forcing some 13,000 people to flee their homes.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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