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Why multiple earthquakes are rattling one Indonesian island

The Indonesian holiday island of Lombok has been hammered by a series of powerful earthquakes in the past three weeks that have killed more than 500 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless. The archipelago nation sits on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and many of the world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. But it is rare for one island to be hit so hard and so often. Here are some questions and answers: What caused a string of earthquakes on Lombok?…

Stranded Rohingya rescued by Indonesian fishermen

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia: Five Rohingya stranded at sea for almost three weeks have been rescued by Indonesian fishermen but several others died during the harrowing ordeal, officials said Friday, with the UN refugee agency saying it was “alarmed” at the deaths. News of the rescue comes several days after the arrival in Malaysia of another boat carrying dozens of members of the persecuted Muslim minority from Myanmar. The group of two men, aged 28 and 33, a 20-year-old woman, a 15-year-old girl and an eight-year old boy…

Hundreds of Indonesian couples ring in the new year at mass wedding

JAKARTA: Hundreds of Indonesian couples celebrated New Year’s Eve on Sunday night by tying the knot in a mass wedding in the capital Jakarta. Nearly 450 couples gathered in a large tent in the city center just hours before midnight to pray with their families before signing marriage certificates. Government officials oversaw each brief ceremony. “We wanted an unforgettable experience and we’re so happy that we decided to participate today,” said Hartiningish, a 38-year-old East Javanese bride, while a live band played…

Once-drab Indonesian slum rejuvenated into ‘Rainbow Village’

SEMARANG, INDONESIA: A slum area on Indonesia's Java Island has become an unlikely tourist attraction, as well as a social media hit, after its homes were painted vivid colors to transform the district into what is now being called "Kampung Pelangi" ("Rainbow Village"). The poor hill-side area received a month-long facelift costing 300 million rupiah ($22,500) and paid for by the local government in a bid to rejuvenate this part of Semarang, a town 450 km (280 miles) east of the capital Jakarta. Visitors have been…

Jailhouse rock; Indonesian inmates perform concert behind bars

BALI: In a prison courtyard on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, the eight inmates that make up the band "Children of Iron Bars" rock the audience with their anti-drug hits. Known as "Antrabez" in Indonesian, the band was formed behind the bars of Kerobokan Prison in July, bringing together six men and two women serving sentences of three months to four years for drugs. "People out there can say that we're the garbage of society," said the band's founding member and guitarist Oktav Sicilia, 35, who is serving three…

Indonesia military plane crash toll rises to 142

MEDAN, INDONESIA: The death toll from the crash of an Indonesian air force plane packed with military personnel and their families rose to 142 Wednesday, as witnesses described people fleeing the disaster zone covered in blood with their clothes alight.