Fri, 12 Aug 1994

Alcatel denies allegation of work safety violation

JAKARTA (JP): The Alcatel Cable company asserted its compliance with work safety standards and refuted any suggestion that the death of four workers in a telephone cable manhole in West Jakarta on Wednesday was caused by safety negligence.

"The people working for our company observe safety rules and technical specifications," Alcatel Cable's resident manager R. Meljac said yesterday.

Meljac went on to state that the manhole in which the workers were drowned was constructed two months ago according to the proper technical specifications.

The tragic incident occurred when five men from the Alcatel Cable company descended down a three meter deep manhole on Jl. Pinangsia, Tamansari, West Jakarta, to repair a faulty telephone line.

Though the West Jakarta police precinct has still not determined the exact cause, it is presumed that the manhole was flooded when the decaying walls separating an adjacent waste water duct crumbled.

In a panic, the five men tried to rush up the ladder which soon broke in the commotion.

Of the five men who went in only Naseh, 30, survived while the others -- Tedi Wahyudi, 18, Zainal Abidin, 30, Arsyad, 37, and Taufik bin Memet, 25, -- were trapped in the six square meter manhole.

Naseh is reportedly still in critical condition at the Husada hospital in West Jakarta.

According to Meljac, a security guard standing beside the manhole who tried to rescue the trapped men was also among the victims.

"We are investigating the cause of the accident in close cooperation with the authorities," said Meljac, adding that "these authorities are the only ones entitled persons to release any conclusions."

Suara Pembaruan reported yesterday that the North Jakarta telecommunications office yesterday denied any responsibility for the accident.

The manhole, which is designed to store thousands of telephone lines for the North Jakarta office, was still under the management of Alcatel Cable and thus this French company was obligated to take full responsibility.

Referring to the victims of the accident, Meljac has stated that the families will receive all necessary support from Alcatel Cable. (mds)