Best of our wild blogs: 24 Dec 16

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At least 4 flights to Singapore diverted to Batam due to poor weather

Channel NewsAsia 23 Dec 16;

SINGAPORE: At least four flights bound for Singapore were diverted to Batam on Thursday (Dec 22) due to poor weather.

A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines (SIA) confirmed that two of its flights were diverted to Batam's Hang Nadim Airport on Thursday. SQ256 from Brisbane with 289 passengers on board landed in Batam at 5.07pm, and SQ631 from Tokyo (Haneda) carrying 259 passengers arrived in Batam at 5.44pm.

Passengers on board both flights remained onboard the aircraft while at Batam, SIA said.

"After refuelling was completed, SQ256 departed Batam at 6.12pm and arrived at Singapore Changi Airport at 7.48pm. SQ631 departed Batam at 7.20pm and arrived in Singapore at 8.50pm," SIA said.

A check on flight tracker FlightAware showed that SQ256 was meant to arrive at Changi Airport at about 3.10pm, while SQ631 was scheduled to land in Singapore at about 3.20pm on Thursday.

Tigerair flight TR2063 from Hong Kong was also diverted to Batam on Thursday "due to inclement weather in Singapore", according to a spokesperson for the airline.

"The aircraft, carrying 147 guests, departed for Singapore within an hour of landing in Batam, landing in Singapore at 5.41pm," Tigerair said.

According to FlightAware, TR2063 was scheduled to land in Singapore at about 3pm.

SilkAir flight MI8163 from Siem Reap was also diverted to Hang Nadim Airport on Thursday due to "inclement weather conditions" in Singapore. The flight with 131 passengers on board arrived in Batam at 3.08pm. It departed the island at 5.28pm and arrived at Changi Airport at 7.19pm, a spokesperson for the airline said.

Flight tracker Flightradar24 stated that MI8163 was meant to arrive in Singapore at about 3.35pm.

- CNA/dl

Bad weather at Changi Airport forces flights to Batam
Fadli Fadli The Jakarta Post 23 Dec 16;

Bad weather in Singapore forced Changi Airport to divert four flights from Hong Kong, Australia, Thailand and Japan to Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam, Riau Islands, on Thursday.

The planes waited in Batam for more than four hours until the weather permitted them to land in Changi.

The first flight, a Tiger Air flight from Hong Kong, landed in Batam at 2:29 p.m. The other flights were a Singapore Airlines flight from Brisbane, a Silk Air flight from Thailand and a Singapore Airlines flight from Tokyo.

Hang Nadim’s general manager Suwarso said Friday that Batam also saw heavy rainfall but the weather was worse in Singapore with strong winds.

The close location of Batam makes Hang Nadim an alternative to Changi in such emergency situations, he said.

“The diversion to Batam is a regular thing,” he said.

The passengers did not leave the plane and waited for three to four hours for the weather to improve. (evi)

Bad weather forces flights to wait it out in Batam
Tiffany Fumiko Tay and Wahyudhi Soeriaatmadja, Straits Times AsiaOne 24 Dec 16;

Four Singapore-bound flights were diverted to the Indonesian island of Batam on Thursday due to inclement weather in the city state.

One of the most dramatic involved a Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight from Tokyo which landed at Changi Airport on Thursday evening, more than five hours behind schedule.

The flight, which was scheduled to land at Changi Airport at 3.25pm, eventually arrived at 8.50pm.

It was the last of the four to land.

SQ631, which departed from Tokyo's Haneda Airport at 7.46am Singapore time, made three attempted landings at Changi Airport before diverting to Hang Nadim airport in Batam to refuel, SIA said in response to queries.

Civil servant Mohammad Ismail, who was on board with his family, including two children aged five and 10, said the failed landing attempts had caused concern, though passengers remained calm.

There were 259 passengers on board.


"The first attempt almost touched the runway, then it ascended like a take off and we shot up past the clouds," said Mr Ismail, 35. "Through the window you could see the dark clouds, rainwater and flashes of lightning."

After circling and making two more attempts, the pilot announced that they would be trying to land at Paya Lebar Air Base due to the bad weather, though this too was called off as conditions there were no better.

The plane then headed for Batam, landing at about 2.50pm local time before waiting three hours for a parking bay, the SIA spokesman said.

The wait in Batam was tedious, and passengers were left hungry as only drinks were served, but "but we passed around some biscuits that were souvenirs from Japan", said Mr Ismail.

The airline crew did their best and handled the situation professionally, he added.

The other diverted flights were a Tigerair flight from Hong Kong, an SIA flight from Brisbane and a SilkAir flight from Siem Reap.

They arrived in Batam before the SQ631 flight, according to local authority BP Batam. All passengers stayed on the planes at Hang Nadim airport while waiting out the bad weather in Changi, it said.

A Changi Airport Group spokesman said decisions regarding flight diversions and landings are left to the sole discretion of the pilot and his airline.

Dynasty Travel's director of marketing communications, Ms Alicia Seah, said flight delays are common during the year-end holiday season because of weather conditions and an increased number of flights.

"Safety is the priority. At the end of the day, if it's not safe to land, it's better not to," she said.

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Indonesia: New habitat of Rafflesia arnoldii found in Bengkulu

Antara 23 Dec 16;

Bengkulu (ANTARA News) - A new habitat of the worlds largest flower Rafflesia arnoldii has been found recently in the forest of Manau IX Village, Kaur District, Bengkulu Province.

Coordinator of Pemuda Padang Guci Peduli Puspa Langka Youth Community Noprianto said here on Friday that a blooming Rafflesia arnoldii was found with several decomposed ones by the River Pengambiran, in Manau IX Village, Padang Guci Hulu Subdistrict.

"The flower has a diameter of 80 cm," Noprianto said.

The new habitat is a one hour walk from the Cawang Kidau Dam in Padang Guci Hulu.

The local community has also mapped the habitat of the flower, which is also dubbed as the corpse flower due to its foul odor, in the local forest.

More than three spots, which are being developed as natural tourism destinations, have been identified as the habitat for Rafflesia arnoldii and Raflesia bengkuluensis in the region.

Rafflesia arnoldii is one of four rafflesia species found in Bengkulu. The other three are Rafflesia bengkuluensis, Rafflesia gadutensis, and Rafflesia hasselti.

The plant, found in the Southeast Asian forest, is parasitic and has no stems, leaves or true roots. Most of the time it lives unobserved inside the woody stems and the roots of its host. Rafflesia arnoldii becomes visible when its plump buds emerge through the bark of its host and develop into large, fleshy flowers that are pollinated by carrion-flies.

Reporting by Helti Marini Sipayung

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China reports first two human deaths from bird flu this winter

Reuters 23 Dec 16;

Two people in China's Anhui province have died from H7N9 bird flu, the first fatalities in China among this winter's cases, while Macau reported its first human infection of the strain since the former Portuguese colony returned to China in 1999.

Anhui has reported five cases of H7N9 avian flu since Dec. 8, including the two people who died, the eastern province's health authority said in a statement dated Dec. 21, posted on its website.

It did not say whether the other three people had recovered or not.

The Anhui cases bring the total number of people infected with the H7N9 virus in mainland China this month to at least seven.

The health ministry said it was taking the reports of the cases seriously.

"Currently experts' judgment is that it is a small number of individuals, but if we discover that it's on a large scale, it would be a different (response)," Mao Qunan, a spokesman for the ministry, told reporters in Beijing.

He did not comment on specific measures in response to the outbreak.

H7N9 had not been detected in either humans or animals in China until March 2013.

The strain does not seem to transmit easily from person to person, and sustained human-to-human infection has not been reported, according to the World Health Organization.

The danger with any such virus is that it mutates and acquires genetic changes that might increase its pandemic potential.

The last major bird flu outbreak in mainland China - from late 2013 to early 2014 - killed 36 people and led to more than $6 billion in losses for the agricultural sector.

In Anhui, which has a population of almost 60 million, authorities shut some livestock markets and stepped up sterilization to prevent the virus spreading, a spokesman for the provincial health authority's emergency department said, adding "a few" chickens had been culled.

Authorities in Shanghai, China's biggest city with more than 24 million residents, said on Wednesday a man diagnosed with the H7N9 strain was being treated there, after traveling from the neighboring province of Jiangsu.

The government in Jiangsu was looking into the origin of the infection, the provincial health authority said.


In Xiamen, a city in Fujian province also in the east, authorities ordered a halt to poultry sales from Thursday in the Siming district, after a 44-year-old man was diagnosed with H7N9 flu, state news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.

The patient was in hospital and was stable, Xinhua said then. The city has a population of about 3.5 million.

Hong Kong this week reported its first human bird flu infection for this season.


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In Macau, health authorities will soon discharge a patient who contracted H7N9, following a quarantine period of about 10 days, said an official at the Macau Heath Bureau Services who only gave his surname Yang.

The patient, a man, had been in close contact with infected poultry, Yang told Reuters. He will be discharged on either Friday or Saturday.

Bird flu is most likely to strike in winter and spring.

Farmers have in recent years increased cleaning, animal detention techniques and built roofs to cover hen pens to prevent infection from wild birds, among other steps, in an effort to stop the disease.

In the past two months, more than 110,000 birds have been killed following bird flu outbreaks, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. They did not lead to human infection.

The latest cases come as South Korea and Japan have ordered the killing of tens of millions of birds in the past month, fuelling fears of a regional spread.

(Reporting by Stella Qiu, Ryan Woo, Muyu Xu and Cate Cadell; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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