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Summary of reports in Media Indonesia

Tapol - December 9, 1997

The value of the rupiah fell sharply Monday to a new low of Rp 4,160 to the dollar. The fall appears to have been caused by news of Suharto's indisposition (he is said to be suffering from exhaustion) and the further weakening of other currencies in the region. Attempts by the Central Bank to intervene to prevent the fall were unsuccessful. One dealer described the situation in the foreign exchange market as 'panicky'.

Armed forces chief General Feisal Tanjung has warned that the panic in the currency market could raise the political temperature in the period up to the MPR session in March next year. He told a parliamentary commission that the armed forces were at a state of high alert so as to be ready to anticipate developments, according to Media.

Also on Monday, the four top floors of the country's Central Bank, Bank Indonesia, went up in flames, with fifteen people reported dead. Many of the dead were caught in the lifts and died after being overcome by the smoke. Some were brought to safety with the help of helicopters. It took five hours for the fire-fighters to gain control of the blaze. The fire started on the 24th floor which is where the bank directors have their offices.

Police say that eight people are being questioned in connection with the fire.