30 Sep 2010

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Indonesia reports two deadly train crashes in Java

by Tyler Kelly

Petarukan in Central Java province is a northern coastal city and scene of the accident


Two train crashes in Indonesia’s Java island killed at least 36 people and injured 60 others, officials said. The death toll probably will rise as rescuers remove passengers still trapped in the wreckage. Cendana Banandi, a government life insurance official, earlier put the death toll at 43 but later revised his figure to 36.

An Argo Bromo executive class train traveling to Surabaya from Jakarta slammed into the back of a Senja Utama business class train that was sitting idle on the same track in the Petarukan station in Pemalang, central Java, at 2:48 a.m. local time today, Sugeng Priyono, vice president of public relations at PT Kereta Api Persero, the national railway operator, said in a phone interview.

The company is investigating whether the collision was caused by human error or faulty signal equipment, Priyono said. The two trains should have been on different tracks, he said.

Most passengers slept on the train, which was sitting idle at the station in Petarukan, a northern coastal city in Central Java province, a train from Jakarta slammed into it around 3 a.m., according to Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan.

He added that investigators were trying to determine if human error was to blame.

“It may also have been mechanical,” he said. “We’re checking to see if the signals of the parked train were working properly.”

The force of the crash knocked part of a train car off the track, and twisted debris from the train littered the area.

By early afternoon Saturday, only one body was still trapped inside the mangled wreckage, said Marsono, a rescuer at the scene.

Thirty-five other bodies were brought to three nearby hospitals, said Tri Yuniasari, a spokeswoman from the Hasyim Ashari hospital, who was helping keep tallies.

At least one person was killed and three others injured in a separate train collision in Solo, Java, occurred about 4 a.m. Jakarta time today, Tunjung Inderawan, director general for trains at Indonesia’s Ministry of Transportation, said by phone. That crash is under investigation, Inderwan said.

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