Indonesia: Investigation underway over Java railway crash
Gulf Times: Monday, 17 April, 2006
A man searches a wrecked carriage after the collision JAKARTA
Government authorities intensified their investigation into a train wreck yesterday which left at least 14 people dead, the latest railway accident in Indonesia in recent years, officials said yesterday.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered an “once and for all investigation” into the accident, urging all parties involved in the country’s air, sea and land transportation to make passengers’ safety a “priority” by abiding to all existing regulations.
After receiving a preliminary report which concluded that the accident was due to human error, Yudhoyono expressed the hope there would be “no more negligence in the future”.
The government put the death toll from Saturday morning’s collision at 14, including the driver of the economy class train Kertajaya, while another 26 passengers were injured, many of them in critical condition.
The trains collided near Gubug railway station in Central Java. Both trains originated from the Indonesian capital Jakarta, and were en route to East Java’s capital of Surabaya.
Transportation Minister Hatta Radjasa admitted negligence. He explained that the driver of the Kertajaya train was mistakenly running the train earlier than scheduled, while he was supposedly on hold at the Gubug railway station until the other train, the executive-class Sembrani, passed.
“We’re focusing our investigation into why the Kertajaya train suddenly left the Gubug railway station without orders from a railway traffic officer - and did not wait until the Sembrani train passed,” said Setyo Raharjo, head of the country’s national commission on transportation safety, who chairs the investigation team.
“We have questioned a number of witnesses including several railway officials,” Raharjo told Elshinta private radio in an interview from the scene, adding that investigation results would be announced within a week.
No one was detained or named suspect in connection with the crash. The Sembrani executive train was travelling at high speed when it hit the Kertajaya train from behind. The Kertajaya had also started moving down the same track. The Sembrani locomotive was derailed and plunged into a paddy field
Several derailed coaches blocked the track. After several hours of recovery work rail traffic linking the Indonesian capital to the country’s second largest city of Surabaya returned to normal early on Saturday evening.
Lawmakers urged the government to handle the accident seriously and hand down sanctions against those responsible for the collision.
On Friday, two trains collided in North Sumatra, killing two and injuring three others. At least two people were killed and nearly 100 passengers were injured last June in the Indonesian capital after two commuter trains collided during evening rush hour.