February 28, 2018

Australian man, 60, dies from electrocution in Bali

An Australian expatriate living in Bali has died after he was electrocuted while cleaning his swimming pool. Anthony Gallagher, from Liverpool, NSW, was killed at his rented property in Jimbaran, Bali, in what Indonesian officials describe as a ‘tragic accident’. The 60-year-old had been living on the tourist island with his Indonesian wife when he plugged in a floor cleaning machine and was immediately electrocuted, according to local Balinese media.

Witnesses told authorities the man had been barefoot and it was lightly raining when he was fatally injured on Wednesday morning. A member of Mr Gallagher’s staff cut the electricity and brought him into the house to lie on the sofa but he had already died. South Kuta Police chief I Nengah Patrem confirmed Mr Gallagher’s death was purely accidental and the Australian consulate had been informed. ‘The Australian has died after being electrocuted when he was cleaning the pool. It’s an accident,’ Mr Patrem said. ‘We did not find any crime in the case. It is purely an accident,’ he said.

A friend of Mr Gallagher shared an emotional tribute to Facebook following his death. ‘Sadly passed away in Bali because of accident in home,’ Alan Croft, who lives in Seminyak, wrote. ‘Anthony Gallagher rest in peace. Heartfelt condolences to his wife, family and all who have known this fine gentleman.’ Mr Gallagher’s body was taken to Sanglah hospital morgue. [Mail Online February 17, 2018]


Female prisoners in Bali move to new facility

Inmates of the Denpasar Women’s Penitentiary have officially been moved to a new building in Kerobokan, Bali. The location of the building was previously used as the Kerobokan Prison’s women block. Even with the newly built facility, the same problems are still faced, namely overcapacity.   “The new building has a capacity for only 120 prisoners. However, we currently have a total of 198 prisoners,” the prison’s warden Setyo Pratiwi said during the launch of the new building on Wednesday.

Among the 198 prisoners currently serving their sentences in the new building are 16 foreign   nationals from countries across the world, such as Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US. Among the foreign prisoners are British drug smuggler Lindsay June Sandiford, who is on death row; Heather Lois Mack, an American woman who killed her mother; and Sara Connor, an Australian woman who killed a Balinese police officer.

The Denpasar Women’s Penitentiary was officially established in 2016. Its new building was built on the site of the ex-Kerobokan female prison complex, and covers an area of 2,000 square-meters. The construction of the Denpasar Women’s Penitentiary was begun following the government’s decision to separate Kerobokan women and men’s prisons. “To support the gender mainstreaming of correctional affairs, the Law and Human Rights Ministry decided to establish women’s penitentiaries across Indonesia, including the Denpasar Women’s Penitentiary,” Pratiwi said. She said the new building had 16 rooms for inmates who had been separated from other prisoners because of their specific cases. “We have special rooms for children of prisoners and death row inmates,” Pratiwi said. [The Jakarta Post February 14, 2018]


Accused Australian drug smuggler released from Kerobokan prison and taken to mental health institution

The accused Australian drug smuggler has been released from Kerobokan prison and has been   taken to a mental health institute. Joshua James Baker was arrested by police at an airport in Bali on October 8 for allegedly bringing a mix of marijuana, tobacco and prescription-only drugs into the country. Mr Baker faced 15 years in prison but was released on Tuesday and taken to a mental health institution where he was greeted by his sister.

The Queensland man’s lawyers were able to arrange a deal with local authorities according to 9 News. The 32-year-old was seen hugging his sister at what appeared to be a reception area for the mental health unit, which is a far cry from the notorious, overcrowded jail cells of Kerobokan prison.

After being arrested, Mr Baker managed to escape police, leading them on a 10 hour chase when he allegedly escaped after asking to visit the toilet. Mr Baker charged with drug importation after he was allegedly found with 28 grams of marijuana mixed with tobacco and 37 Diazepam pills. The Mt Isa man’s lawyer Pande Putu Maya Arsanti was extremely concerned for Mr Baker’s well-being. ‘Police have tried to stop his medication so that they know the reaction,’ she said, expressing concerns for her client’s health as well as the health and safety of those around him. ‘He has an extreme headache. His mood is very bad. He always says, “I have a headache, it hurts. Why did they bring me here”,’ Ms Arsanti said previously. Mr Baker’s trial has been delayed. [Mail Online February 13, 2018]


Bali’s Abandoned Plane

Down in southern Bali sits an abandoned Boeing 737. It’s not at an airport or an airplane boneyard. Instead, it sits in a field near some kind of limestone quarry, and no one quite knows how it got there. The abandoned plane is located near the southern coast of the Bukit Peninsula in Bali. It’s just off the Raya Nusa Dua Selatan Highway, and only five minutes from the popular and picturesque Pandawa beach. In other words, it’s not exactly hidden away from the world.

Which makes it even stranger is that no one seems to know how it got there. You’d think someone would notice the arrival of a Boeing 737 in a field near a fairly major road, but… no. Some locals say that the plane, which has no livery or notable insignia, was destined to be converted into a tourist-friendly restaurant. Apparently, however, the owner ran out of money and left his Boeing 737 to slowly rust surrounded by a shabby hut and a few shipping containers. Apart from that, little is known about the abandoned aircraft. It may have been purchased and reassembled where it now stands, which would explain, at least in part, why no one saw it arrive.

The plane has now become a tourist attraction in its own right. And, strangely, it’s not the only abandoned plane you can visit on the               Indonesian island. About five miles north sits another abandoned Boeing 737, right next to a Dunkin’ Donuts. The abandoned Boeing 737 in the south of the Bukit Peninsula is easy enough to reach, as long as you can spot it from the road. The view of the plane is obstructed from the highway, so you need to keep your eyes open or you could easily miss it. You can see the plane by climbing up onto the containers that surround it. Or, for a better view, head slightly further down the road where you’ll find a path that leads up above the plane. You’ll have to pay a small fee to enter, as the plane is on private property. [Atlas Obscura February 20, 2018]


Someone tried to send 24 human skulls in the mail from Bali to the Netherlands

Customs officers in Bali intercepted 24 human skulls that were being sent from the Indonesian island on to the Netherlands. The skulls were stopped in two shipments, the first on Jan. 11, the second on Jan. 18. “The 24 human skulls were to be sent to the Netherlands and were stopped by Ngurah Rai Customs. They were stopped in two instances by the Post Office,” head of Ngurah Rai Customs office Himawan Indarjono said in Bali on Friday, as quoted by Detik. “From the two actions, we got a total of four crates containing 24 human skulls,” explained Himawan.

The packages aroused the suspicions of Customs officers when going through an x-ray. No, it  doesn’t seem we have a mass murderer on hand. The skulls are estimated to be quite old, believed to be cultural relics, coming from either Kalimantan or Papua, according to Helly Siti Halimah, Pos Indonesia region VIII Bali-Nusra director. “There were artistic carvings on the skulls, as well as something for a sculpture. It’s possible that they belonged to the Dayak tribe in Kalimantan or came from Papua,” said Halimah.

The skulls have been handed over to the Bali Cultural Heritage Preservation Department for further examination so their origins and age can be more accurately pinned down. The sender, of the skulls, who has been identified as an Indonesian national with the initial “R” and has an address in Kuta, is being investigated by the authorities, says Himawan. [Coconuts Bali February 13, 2018]


Number of Australians visiting our favourite overseas getaway has fallen but burgeoning amount of Chinese tourists means we’re not missed

The amount of Australians visiting Bali has dropped in the last year, as Chinese tourists continue to flock to the Indonesian island in huge numbers. Figures from Bali’s statistic agency reveal China had a 24 per cent share of visitors to the picturesque tourist destination compared to Australia’s 19 per cent. Chinese people visiting Bali spiked by a whopping 40 per cent, while Australia’s visitors dropped by 4 per cent. The country with the biggest rise in Bali interest was India, which recorded a 45 per cent spike in visitors to Indonesia’s paradise. Americans are also increasingly taking an interest in Bali, with the country recording a 12 per cent spike in the number of visitors to take total tourism numbers to 191,000. In total, Bali received nearly 5.7 million visitors in 2017, up from 4.9 million visitors in 2016.

The country has received negative publicity in the Australian media relating to volcano eruptions disrupting flights. Back in 2010, just 648,000 people visited Bali, compared to the 1.1 million who holiday there today. Head of Bali’s Central Statistics Agency Adi Nugrhoho the labelled Australia the ‘Kangaroo Country’ in an interview with Antara. ‘Although the amount of people from the Kangaroo Country to Bali was reduced, it is still ranked second most in supplying tourists to the island after China,’ he said. Australians in Bali this month have been singing the nations praises in social media posts. ‘Thank you for showing the real beauty of Bali,’ one user said in a message to Travel Guides. ‘It’s really good to show another perspective for those who haven’t been to Bali yet.’ Another user said: ‘If you’ve ever been to Bali you know it’s one of the hardest places to ever leave. I came home and worked my butt off and now I’m heading back there knowing that I don’t have to come back if I don’t want to.’ [Mail Online February 13, 2018]


Mount Agung: Alert status lowered by Indonesian authorities as volcano activity slows down

Indonesian authorities have lowered the alert status of Bali’s Mount Agung volcano after scientists found a reduction in its activity. More than 140,000 people have fled the area surrounding the mountain after authorities warned an eruption may be imminent in September. However, the decision was taken on Saturday to downgrade Agung’s status after several scientific indicators showed a decrease in activity over the past month. “People’s activities as well as tourism in Bali has been declared safe and there will no more disruption related to the volcano at this time,” Indonesian energy minister, Ignasius Jonan, said in a statement.

Indonesia’s volcano agency said smoke and tremors from the 3,031-metre-tall volcano, which indicate rising magma, have reduced significantly, but Agung remained on the second-highest alert level. The agency said villagers living on the mountain’s slopes could return home, but warned them not to venture close to its crater, which was still emitting smoke. The radius of the volcano’s danger zone has also been reduced from 3.7 miles to 2.4 miles from its crater. Indonesian officials first raised the eruption alert to its highest possible level five months ago, when seismic activity increased at the mountain. The activity decreased by late October, and the alert was lowered before being lifted to the highest level again in late November, forcing more than 55,000 people out of their homes and into temporary shelters.

Tourists, who were stranded when the island’s only airport closed for nearly three days, joined the rush to leave the area. Agung, located around 45 miles northeast of Bali’s tourist hotspot of Kuta, last erupted in 1963, killing about 1,100 people. It is one more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to eruptions and earthquakes due to its location on the “Ring of Fire”, a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere to Japan and Southeast Asia. [Independent February 10, 2018]


PLN abandons suspended high power lines and opts for new submarine cables between Java and Bali

A growing demand for electrical power in Bali has caused the State Power Board (PLN) to urgently commence the long-delayed and controversial construction of the high-voltage Java-Bali Crossing (JBC). Finance.detik.com quotes the Deputy Manager for alternative Energy at PLN, Dewanto, who said: “The Java-Bali Crossing is progressing as anticipated. If the JBC is not completed, the electrical reserves will be very small, but perhaps not yet in crisis territory. But, if requests for new connections continue to grow, then we may well face a real crisis of electricity shortage. The standard oversupply or reserve of electricity for a specific region is targeted at 30%. Dewanto made his comment during a discussion on “The Future of New Energy in Bali” held at Kubu Kopi in Denpasar on February 15, 2018.

Dewanto said new sources of electricity are essential to continue to attract investment in Bali. He said a minimum of two years is needed to establish new electrical sources for Bali, with investors sometimes forced to wait unto more power comes online. PLN says Bali’s current island-wide supply of electricity totals 1,290 megawatts with an effective average capacity of 1,100 megawatts. On the assumption that Bali’s power requirements grow 8.7% per year, then, by 2021, Bali will face a peak power demand of 1,214 megawatts.

“We need power reserves, The planning of PLN for JBC is seen as the most efficient means of increasing power supplies as opposed to building more power generating plants on the Island. Building steam-generated power plants (PLTU) is very expensive, without even discussing problems of locations and environmental concerns,” said Dewanto. PLN says the JBC will eventually provide 2,800 megawatts of additional power supply for Bali. The JBC project is budgeted to cost Rp. 4.8 trillion needed to construct 514 electrical pylons carrying power from West Situbundo to Banyuwangi before laying a submarine cable to bring power to shores of Bali at Jembrana or Tabanan. The underwater cable will cover a distance of 2.68km. Once installed, Bali should have sufficient power on hand to meet projected power demands through 2020. Apparently, PLN has shelved plans to construct the world’s tallest overhead high voltage lines stretching over the straits between East Java and Bali in favor of submarine cables. [www.balidiscovery.com February 17, 2018]