JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Ali Kotarumalos, a journalist who reported on major news events in Indonesia for The Associated Press for more than three decades, has died. He was 68.
He died Wednesday at a Jakarta hospital from lung cancer, which he had battled for three years.
Kotarumalos joined AP's Jakarta Bureau as a news staffer in 1982. He covered the fall of President Suharto and Indonesia’s transition to democracy in 1998.
He reported on disasters such as plane crashes and the powerful Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in 2004 that killed a total of 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.
He also covered terrorist attacks, as well as conflicts in Maluku and East Timor in which thousands were killed.
“Those were such busy news years in Indonesia and there were so many times when I absolutely could not have done my job without Ali," said former AP Jakarta Bureau Chief Robin McDowell. "If there was an earthquake, plane crash, terrorist attack, ferry sinking anywhere in Indonesia, at any time, Ali knew who to call and got the confirmation.”
Margie Mason, another former bureau chief, said Kotarumalos “was always on top of breaking news, often waking up to disaster alerts on his phone and filing earthquake stories in the middle of the night to put AP ahead of the competition. He was also a very kind man, and everybody loved him. He will be greatly missed.”
Kotarumalos retired in 2019 after 37 years with AP.
He is survived by his wife, two daughters, one son and two grandchildren.