Sat, 29 Apr 2000

Over 20 people injured in train crash in South Jakarta

JAKARTA (JP): At least 24 people were injured on Friday evening when a Jabotabek commuter train heading for Bogor careered into a Pakuan Express train, also Bogor-bound, between Manggarai and Tebet stations in South Jakarta.

Head of state-owned PT Kereta Api Indonesia for the Jabotabek (Jakarta-Bogor-Tangerang-Bekasi) area Masjraul Hidajat said no fatalities had been reported and his office was still investigating the cause of the 6:00 p.m. accident.

"It occurred in the middle of a heavy rain and thunder storm," Masjraul said over the phone.

All of the injured passengers were immediately taken to nearby hospitals.

"One victim was rushed to Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital in Central Jakarta while seven more were admitted to Mitra Keluarga Hospital in East Jakarta," he added.

However, staff at the Cipto were seen busily treating at least five of the injured victims, including an unconscious man who was later transferred to nearby St. Carolus Hospital.

Most of the victims, all of whom were passengers on the Pakuan, suffered head injuries.

Lucia, one of the injured passengers who suffered slight back injuries, said the Pakuan train stopped suddenly on the tracks at about 6:15 p.m. The electricity then failed.

"When the lights were turned back on, a passenger from the back of the train screamed and told us that a train was approaching from behind," recalled Lucia, whose unconscious husband was treated at the Carolus.

The accident happened at the busiest time for the electricity- powered Jabotabek trains, better known as KRL. Hundreds of passengers pack into the trains, particularly during the morning and evening rush hours.

A night shift female operator at Mitra Keluarga Hospital said the hospital had received "plenty of injured people" from the accident.

Another female nurse at the hospital's emergency room said they still could not give an exact victim tally nor elaborate on the kinds of wounds they were treating because all staffers were busy with the patients.

"I'm sorry because we're on a state of emergency here. We are all hands on deck here," she said anxiously.

She only said that the victims were brought in at about 7 p.m.

At 10:15 p.m., the hospital's on-duty doctor Whisnu said that medical staff had treated 19 victims.

"Three passengers have suffered the most. One has back and head injuries while the two others have leg fractures," he said.

There are no reports so far on the whereabouts of the drivers of both trains.

Meanwhile, passenger Yono on the approaching Pakuan train said he felt that train make a sudden stop at about 6:15 p.m.

"I was sitting in the final carriage of the train when the train broke suddenly," he said.

Pakuan Express trains ply between Jakarta Kota station in West Jakarta and Bogor station, only stopping at Gambir station in Central Jakarta along the way. Meanwhile KRL trains stops at 22 stations on their way. (asa/nvn)