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Indonesia studies building record suspension bridge

by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) Oct 4, 2007
Indonesia is to begin studying the possibility of building a bridge which would have the longest suspended stretch in the world, an official said Thursday.

Under proposal is a six-lane bridge which would be at least 29 kilometres (18 miles) long and link the earthquake-prone islands of Java and Sumatra, the official said.

It would cross three islands dotting the strait, have two railway tracks and is expected to cost around 10 billion dollars.

The bridge would include a single suspended 2.5-kilometre stretch where the sea is up to 200 metres deep, said Wiratman Wangsadinata of Wiratman Associates, in a press release.

The Indonesian company is one of two charged with undertaking the two-year study.

This section would effectively be the longest suspension bridge in the world, overtaking the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan, which has a main suspended span of almost two kilometres.

An agreement to begin a "pre-feasibility" study on the construction of the bridge across the Sunda Strait was signed by the governors of Lampung and Banten provinces and the two companies on Wednesday, an official from the provincial spokesman's office in Banten, Alferia Ferry, told AFP.

The study on the bridge, which has been mulled since the 1960s, is to be undertaken jointly by Wiratman Associates and Artha Graha Network, a press release said, without giving figures.

Wiratman said that if the project was given an initial green light, a feasibility study would be conducted from 2009 to 2013 and construction would follow from 2013, with its opening due in 2025.

Around 20 to 30 ageing passenger ships ferry around 350,000 people and 25,000 vehicles daily between the densely populated islands of Java and Sumatra each day, the Jakarta Post reported.

The head of Indonesia's National Development Planning Board, Paskah Suzetta, told the daily that funding would be split between the state budget and private sector, and foreign loans may be sought.

Wiratman also told the Post that the bridge, just 50 kilometres away from the infamous Krakatau volcano, would be constructed from flexible but strong materials able to withstand earthquakes and strong winds.

Sumatra was rocked by a massive 9.0-magnitude quake in December 2004 that unleashed a devastating tsunami that killed about 168,000 people living in Aceh at the island's northwestern tip.

Several other major quakes have since rattled the island.

Plans to build a bridge linking the two islands were initially floated in the 1960s but financial constraints have repeatedly forced their shelving.

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China blames design for Mattel recalls
Beijing (AFP) Aug 27, 2007
A design fault was mostly to blame for US toy giant Mattel's recall of millions of products, not the Chinese manufacturers, China's chief safety watchdog said Monday.

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