Taiwan pilot fears aid mission to Indonesia threatened by publicity

Taiwan is keeping four C-130 transport planes ready in wake of Indonesia tsunami

A C-130 Hercules transport plane (photo by Aldo Bidini).

A C-130 Hercules transport plane (photo by Aldo Bidini). (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Government publicity endangered an aid mission to Indonesia in 2005 after the tsunami, and it could do so again today, reports said Thursday.

A tsunami killed more than 400 people after hitting West Java last month, leading to Taiwan offering assistance in the shape of four C-130 transport planes, the Apple Daily reported. However, the Indonesian government already turned down help from overseas.

According to the Apple Daily, in 2005 the government sent two C-130 aircraft to Indonesia to provide relief after the tsunami, but because Taiwan announced the measure, the pilots almost didn’t succeed in returning home.

A retired pilot said that the planes had to refuel in Singapore on their way to deliver aid supplies to Indonesia. However, once they had arrived, the government in Taiwan publicized the fact, leading to interference in their plans to return home.

One airport after the other refused to let them refuel, making them fear they would have to fly until they dropped out of the sky, the Apple Daily reported. At the last minute, a small airport allowed them to land, solving their problems and making sure they were able to reach Taiwan.

Any more government advertising of such aid missions was likely to create a repeat of the situation from 2005, reports said.