Fri, 14 Jan 2000

Three officials questioned over train accident

BOGOR (JP): Local police have questioned three officials at Bogor Railway Station and are currently awaiting further information from the five operators of the train, following a tragic incident that claimed 12 lives on Wednesday afternoon.

"We've questioned witnesses and three officials, namely railway station chief Ismanto, security chief Endang Sutisna and health post chief Engkos Koswara," Bogor Regional Police chief Col. Edi Darnadi told reporters on Thursday.

The five operators have not yet been able to meet the police summons for questioning over the fatal deaths of the victims, mostly teenagers, in the Paledang area, Central Bogor, on the grounds of the absence of other officials to temporarily replace them.

The five were identified as the train's track controller chief Udin Saefudin, railroad platform officer Supriyadi, locomotive engineers Sopiandi and Onel and attendant Sanwasi.

The 12 victims, riding on top of the crowded Bogor-Sukabumi diesel-powered train, were killed when they collided with a bridge five minutes after the train left Bogor Station.

Ten others were severely injured.

Eyewitness recalled the group of teenagers were sitting on the roof of the train unaware of the approaching bridge.

Police have not yet named any suspects in the incident.

According to officer Edi, those found guilty would be charged under Article 359 of the Criminal Code for unintentional manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

"So far we haven't found the guilty party in this case because every related train officer has his own job description," he said.

Deputy chief of Bogor Railway Station Achmad Sambudi explained the train was traveling at 30 to 40 kilometers per hour.

"At the time of the accident, based on the ticket sales, there were 800 travelers on board, with 50 to 60 of them riding on top of the roof," Achmad said on Thursday.

Normally, the Bogor-Sukabumi route transports around 1,500 passengers per day; during the Idul Fitri holiday this figure can double or even treble.

"Officials frequently warn passengers not to sit on the top of the trains. A day before the incident our office was pelted with stones by impatient passengers when we announced that the train was late due to people on the track," Achmad said.

In a bid to avoid accidents in the future, police and the railway station offices will work together to maintain security to avoid overloading the trains, he added.

Meanwhile, state insurance company PT Jasa Rahardja in Bogor and Depok have paid three victims of the Paledang train accident.

"We will pay insurance based on where the victim lives," PT Jasa Rahardja's Taufiq Arifin said on Thursday.

The families of two of the fatalities, Dewi Rochadi, 18, and Suriadi, 18, both from Desa Ratu Jaya, Depok, have received a payment along with the injured Budianto bin Supendi of Kebon Kopi, Bogor.

The dead or crippled victims will receive Rp 5 million each, while the injured will receive Rp 2.5 million per person.

Most of the victims were teenagers who wanted to enjoy the last days of the Idul Fitri holiday. Some of them were from Bekasi, Depok, Tangerang and Jakarta.

But Achmad insisted that his company, PT Kereta Api Indonesia, had no plans to give any kind of compensation to the victims.

"Moreover, these people were riding on the train and sitting in the wrong place. This is absolutely violating the rules," Achmad added. (21/edt)