Sat, 18 Mar 2000

Child dies in military accident

BANDUNG (JP): A young girl was killed and four people were injured after a 105-millimeter cannon projectile shot by artillery troops in a routine training exercise crashed into a house in Batujajar on Wednesday.

Spokesman for the Siliwangi Military Command Lt. Col. Fatwa Suratmoko said on Friday that the five-year-old fatality was identified as Omi bin Oman, a resident of Cipanegara village in Batujajar.

The four others now being treated at Dustira Hospital in Cimahi are Dedeh, 12, Novi, 3, Imas, 21, and Yani, 25. Each was severely injured in the accident.

According to Fatwa, it was Field Artillery Battalion 5/105 that was undergoing the training on Wednesday.

"A 105 mm cannon projectile typically has a range of only 4.6 kilometers. But one overshot its target, reaching a distance of seven kilometers, hitting a tree and crashing into a nearby house," Fatwa said.

The two women, Imas and Yani, were playing with their children when pieces of the projectile hit them. Omi died soon after a piece of shrapnel wounded her in the chest.

Fatwa said that the Siliwangi Military Command took full responsibility for the fatal incident. "We will help the families as much as possible. We have discussed the situation with them and local residents. We apologize for this tragedy."

Fatwa also said that a thorough investigation would be made. "We must discover if it was due to a technical problem or human error."

Siliwangi Military chief of staff Brig. Gen. Subagyo told The Jakarta Post that the projectile was made in 1973 and that the cannon was even older, which might explain the cause of the accident. (25/sur)