Train collision on main Indonesian island of Java, killing at least 4 people

BANDUNG, Indonesia –

Two trains collided on Friday on the main island of Java, Indonesia, causing the cars to buckle and overturn and killing at least four people, authorities said.

The accident occurred about 500 meters from the Cicalengka train station in West Java province, said Ayep Hanapi, spokesman for PT Kereta Api Indonesia, the national railway.

He said the Turangga express train carrying 287 passengers was traveling from Surabaya, the capital of East Java province, when it collided with a Bandung Raya commuter train with 191 passengers heading to Padalarang from Haurpugur station at around 6: 03 am.

“All passengers on the two crashed trains have been safely evacuated,” Hanapi said, adding that 37 people were injured and treated at various hospitals. As of Friday afternoon, only two passengers remained hospitalized, she said.

Passenger Heri Aliyudin said the lights went out in his cabin in the third carriage of the Turangga train. He recalled that several passengers had their suitcases and bags dropped. Those still sleeping were thrown from their seats.

“I was so shocked that I couldn’t move for a moment, it was total confusion,” Aliyudin told Kompas TV in an interview, “so I grabbed my suitcase and made my way outside.”

West Java police spokesman Ibrahim Tompo said at least four members of the train crew were killed: the driver and his assistant on the commuter train and a waiter and a security guard on the express train.

Television video showed several cars overturned or badly destroyed. A carriage fell into a nearby rice field. People screamed as terrified passengers tried to get off the train. Some walked through the fields carrying suitcases and other items while ambulances evacuated the injured.

Transport Ministry spokesperson Adita Irawati apologized for the accident and the interruption of rail services on the island of Java.

He said the cause of the accident was under investigation and that rescuers had evacuated all passengers and were working to remove the trains and restore service.

“This accident will be subject to further evaluation so that a similar incident does not occur again in the future,” Irawati said.

Major local media reports said a preliminary investigation found that the commuter train was given the go-ahead to continue when the express train was almost at Cicalengka station. Normally, the local train stops at Haurpugur station to make way for the express train before continuing.

PT Kereta Api Indonesia president and director Didiek Hartantyo did not want to comment on whether poor communication was the cause of the accident.

“Don’t assume. “We don’t want to speculate before the investigation is complete,” Hartyanto said, “let’s allow time for the National Transportation Safety Commission to conduct a thorough investigation.”

Train accidents are common on Indonesia’s old railway network, especially at crossings.

In October 2013, A passenger train collided with a minibus. that transported families of Hajj pilgrims at an unguarded crossing in the Indramayu district of West Java, killing 13 people. In 2010, a train from the capital, Jakarta, crashed into the rear of a stopped train at a station in Central Java province, killing 36 people.

The government has spent billions of dollars improving infrastructure, including roads, railways, airports and power plants, in the world’s largest archipelago nation, home to more than 270 million people.

A $7.3 billion high-speed railway, the first in Southeast Asia, has been operating commercially since October. The 142-kilometer (88-mile) railway, a key project under China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, has slashed travel time between Jakarta and Bandung from three hours to about 40 minutes.

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Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini and Edna Tarigan in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

Rescuers inspect the wreckage of a collision between two trains in Cicalengka, West Java, Indonesia, Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

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