Thursday, November 01, 2018

In Bangka-Belitung, Lion Air Plane Crash Leaves Deep Scars

Pangkal Pinang. As Indonesia struggles to determine why an airliner crashed this week with the loss of all 189 people on board, there is nowhere the impact of its second-worst air disaster has been felt as deeply as the sleepy, palm-fringed Bangka-Belitung Islands.

Lion Air flight JT-610, an almost new Boeing 737 MAX 8, was en route from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang, the center of the country's tin-mining region, on Monday when it crashed into the sea soon after takeoff.

"Bangka-Belitung has never suffered from a crash like this before," said Krisna Wiryawan, head of the city's tax office. Seven of his 92 employees were on the doomed flight.

"We're feeling deeply hurt," Krisna said, speaking at his desk inside the slightly shabby, red-tiled tax building, with rows of flowers carrying condolence messages lined up outside.

Indonesian flags on government offices in Pangkal Pinang were at half-mast this week to honor the victims.

The tax office suffered disproportionate losses since many of its workers commute from Jakarta, and Krisna himself said he often took that flight.

Staff regularly used Lion Air or other budget airlines, rather than national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, for cost reasons, particularly if using personal expenses, Krisna said.
31/10/18 Tabita Diela/Jakarta Globe

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