30 June 2010

June 29, 2010
Amir Tejo & Putri Prameshwari

Police and residents look at a derailed train in Madiun, Indonesia's east Java province June 29, 2010. Six people were killed and 73 were injured. (Reuters Photo/Stringer)

Six Dead and 73 Injured After Train Derails in East Java

Six people were killed and dozens injured when a train derailed and rolled down an embankment near Madiun, East Java, on Tuesday. The Logawa train was traveling from Purwokerto in Central Java to Jember in East Java when it derailed. Three of its cars went off the track and rolled down the embankment. The Ministry of Transportation has dispatched a team to Madiun to investigate.

Tundjung Inderawan, director general of railway transportation at the ministry, said the team would try to determine the cause of the accident, the deadliest train incident since a 2008 crash in Lampung that killed nine people. “The ministry’s director of railway safety and his team have arrived on the scene, and we are monitoring developments,” Tundjung said. He added that a team from the National Transportation Safety Committee would conduct a separate investigation. Officials identified four of the victims as Rahmat Bayu Rianto, 15; Hariadi M Noor Khoiri, 38; Kuatno, 29; and Sholeh, 58.

Police are still attempting to determine the identities of the remaining two victims. Madiun Police Chief Umar Effendi said the 73 injured passengers had been taken to Panti Waluyo Hospital in Madiun. Umar said the police and state railway operator PT Kereta Api were still unable to determine the cause of the accident. “We are still focusing on the evacuation process,” he said. Tundjung said that cars 9 to 11 derailed when the train was on an elevated section of track in the Saradan Wilangan area. “They fell around 10 meters down,” he said, adding that the position of the fallen cars had made it difficult to reach the passengers. Tundjung said a train had departed from Solo to help with the evacuation, and that a crane would also soon arrive to lift the derailed cars. “The other cars have been pulled to the nearest station,” he said.

Heri Winarno, a spokesman for the Kereta Api office overseeing the Surabaya region, said the accident disrupted several services on the southern line. “We have diverted trains from Surabaya and Malang that run on the southern line to the northern line,” he said. The diverted trains included the Sancaka bound for Yogyakarta, the Jakarta-bound Bima and Gajayana, and the Bandung-bound Turangga and Malabar. Heri said passengers should expect continued delays because trips on the northern line took longer. A bottleneck of passengers is inevitable, he said, because it is the school holiday season and most trains are fully booked.

The rail system is notorious for its poor safety record. Old tracks and cars are often not maintained properly, resulting in frequent derailments and crashes. According to information from the Ministry of Transportation, the number of people killed in accidents involving trains rose from 45 in 2008 to 57 in 2009. Tundjung said that despite the age of the tracks and cars, human error remained the main cause of train accidents.

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