Sun, 14 Sep 2003

IBRA spokesman still missing after accident

Theresia Sufa, The Jakarta Post, Bogor

The search continued on Saturday for Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) spokesman Raymond van Beekum who disappeared during a rafting excursion on Cisadane River on Friday.

The rescue team focused their search on the section of the river between Bogor in West Java and Tangerang in Banten, officials said.

Van Beekum's wife, Agnes Metta, his parents and IBRA Chief Syarifuddin Tumenggung also joined in the search.

South Bogor Police deputy chief First Insp. Yogi said that there was very little chance that Van Beekum was still alive after a three-meter high wall of water knocked him off a rock in the river at about 2:30 p.m. on Friday.

Two reporters also on the rafting trip -- Adinda of newsportal detikcom and Irfan of Radio NamLapanHa -- claimed that the conditions of the river were still normal when they started out from nearby Ciherang Pondok village.

One of the seven rafts to be used in the trip was deflated, so several of the passengers, who were reporters, climbed in to Van Beekum's raft.

Near the lengthy section of rapids called Jeram Panjang, a wall of water suddenly hit the raft. Van Beekum, Leanika Tanjung of Tempo weekly and Nuri of Rakyat Merdeka daily were tossed into the water.

Wearing life vests, they managed to get back in to the raft. Van Beekum was left, as he had reached a rock to stand on. But a second wall of water pulled him back into the strong rapids before he could get in to the raft.

The co-founder of "Arus Liar" rafting group in Citarik River, Lody Korua, predicted that Van Beekum's body would be found somewhere along the riverbank or riverbed.

Firmansyah, a member of Cisadane River sluice's management, said that the water level on Friday afternoon had reached up to 135 centimeters above normal levels. As of Saturday afternoon, the water level had gone back to normal, at 50 cm.