Indonesia's Black Friday: Submarine still missing; Mount Merapi spews ash as Covid-19 cases worsens as total nears 1.5 million

Police officers stand guard near the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Secretariat ahead of a leaders' meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, April 23, 2021. The 10-member Association of South-East Asian Nations is scheduled to hold a special summit to discuss Myanmar on Saturday. - AP

JAKARTA, April 23 (Agencies): It was not the best of Fridays for Indonesia. Not much looked good for the country on Friday as the country gears up for the Asean Leader's Meeting to decide on the Myanmar issue on Saturday (April 24).

First, Indonesia's desperate search for a missing submarine and its 53 crew was focused on a signal from an unidentified object on Friday, with just hours to go before the stricken vessel's oxygen reserves ran out.

Nearly two dozen warships were taking part in the ramped-up hunt, as Australia and the United States joined the search off the coast of Bali where the sub disappeared more than two days ago during training exercises.

The military said it had picked up signs of an object with high magnetism at a depth of between 50 and 100m (165 and 330 feet).

Ships equipped with specialised tracking equipment were deployed in the hope that it may be the KRI Nanggala 402, which was equipped with oxygen reserves that could last until early Saturday, authorities said.

The search zone covers an area of about 10 square nautical miles (34 square kilometres).

"We've only got until 3:00 am tomorrow (Saturday) so we're maximising all of our efforts today," Indonesian military spokesman Achmad Riad said earlier.

Indonesia's volcano Merapi spewed ash clouds as far as 2,000m to the southwest, according to the Geological Disaster Technology Research and Development Centre on Friday.

The centre's head Hanik Humaida said the latest eruption occurred at 11:30am local time and wind blew the ash to Central Java's Boyolali.

"The eruption last for 145 seconds at the volcano," said Humaida.

The local government asked residents to wear masks if they have to leave their homes and do not venture into dangerous areas within a 5-km radius from the volcano summit.

Authorities also warned residents to be aware of cold lava after rain around rivers that flow to Merapi, such as Kuning, Boyong, Bedog, Krasak, Bebeng, Putih and Gendol.

Merapi, which straddles in the provinces of Central Java and Yogyakarta, is the one of most active volcanos in Indonesia.

The Indonesian government has suspended the issuance of visas for foreigners who have visited India in the previous 14 days to prevent the spread of Covid-19, an official said on Friday.

"This policy will take effect from April 25 and is temporary," said Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto.

Meanwhile, Indonesians who have visited India are allowed to return to their homeland through certain points with strict health protocols.

They will undergo a 14-day quarantine at a designated hotel and be able to return home after two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests showing negative results.

India is facing a severe second wave of Covid-19 outbreak with more than 300,000 daily cases overwhelming the medical services.

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, the Covid-19 cases in Indonesia rose 5,436 in the past 24 hours to 1,632,248, with the death toll adding by 174 to 44,346, the Health Ministry said on Friday.

According to the ministry, 5,920 more patients were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recoveries from the coronavirus epidemic to 1,487,369.

The virus has spread to all the country's 34 provinces.In the past 24 hours, West Java recorded 1,066 new confirmed cases, Jakarta 884, Riau 477, Central Java 374 and Bangka Belitung Islands 339. - Xinhua
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