Mon, 03 Oct 1994

RI art troupe cancels India tour over plague

JAKARTA (JP): An Indonesian art troupe from Bali has canceled it's planned two-week tour in India due to the deadly pneumonic plague epidemic there.

The cultural group consisting of 35 Balinese dancers, folk singers, painters and sculptors was slated to arrive in New Delhi yesterday after completing their mission in Germany.

Bali Governor Ida Bagus Oka said in Denpasar on Saturday that the cancellation was a precaution to avoid contracting the disease, which has killed more than 60 people over the past two weeks.

He said both the Indonesian embassy in India and I Made Bandem who led the Balinese cultural troupe were notified about the cancellation before the group left Germany.

"We have told them (the cultural group members) to fly directly to Indonesia without stopping over in India," the Antara news agency quoted him as saying.

Indonesia and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) sent their cultural missions to Germany to enliven the recent meeting between their foreign ministers and the European Union.

The planned Indonesian cultural mission to India was made at the invitation of Indonesian Ambassador Sahala Rajagukguk.

Unlike other countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan, Indonesia has not barred travelers from India. They are only required to fill in forms about their health status and itineraries upon arrival.

Minister of Health Sujudi said last week that there was no need to bar visitors from India or those who stopover in the country unless they were ill or suspected of being infected by bacteria causing the deadly disease.

Bangladesh has sealed off all but seven of the 33 land entry points from India and its health officials are tightly screening all Indians entering that country.

Sujudi said, however, that the position of the two countries was different from Indonesia. (rms)