BINTARO: A commuter train collided with a fuel tanker in the Indonesian capital Jakarta Monday, killing at least five people and injuring 80 others as a women-only carriage derailed and burst into flames.
Both the carriage and tanker flipped on their sides following the crash at a level crossing and caught fire, sending thick plumes of smoke into the air as passengers jumped off the train and fled.
“The first and last carriages on this train were for women only, so it was the first carriage that collided with the truck,” Sukendar Mulya, a spokesman for state-owned train company Kereta Api Indonesia, told AFP.
The truck accelerated and drove onto the tracks just as the gate was coming down to halt traffic and let the train pass, Mulya said.
The train company estimated that around 600 passengers were on board when it slammed into the truck on the southeastern fringes of Jakarta.
Firefighters direct their hoses towards a fire following a collision between a commuter train and fuel truck at Bintaro, western Jakarta, on December 9, 2013 (AFP, Bima Sakti)
Forty-year-old Ira, who goes by one name, was in the carriage that hit the truck.
“I felt the strong crash and panicked, so I forced my way out a window and just ran,” Ira told AFP as she broke down in tears.
“I was outside when I heard an explosion… and saw the truck and carriage on fire,” she said.
Jakarta deputy police chief Sujarno confirmed that five people were killed but other passengers were safely evacuated.
“There were also young children hospitalised with injuries,” he said.
Rescue workers (C, in orange) attempt to evacuate victims following a collision between a commuter train and fuel truck at Bintaro, western Jakarta, on December 9, 2013 (AFP, Bima Sakti)
A list displayed near the crash site showed more than 80 people had been hospitalised. An AFP correspondent at the scene saw several burns victims being taken away in ambulances.
Nine people were being treated for serious injuries, Jakarta police spokesman Rikwanto said, suggesting the death toll may rise.
Rikwanto said the train sounded its horn several times before hitting the truck, which was unable to get out of the way as it was stuck in traffic behind a motorcycle.
“The train hit the truck from the back left and propelled it around 20 metres (65 feet) forward before they both flipped,” Rikwanto said, adding that police were questioning seven witnesses.
Isnadi, a senor official at Kereta Api Indonesia, said the safety gate was in working order.
“The warning alarm sounded for at least five minutes before the train arrived. The train was travelling at 70 kilometres (43 miles) an hour when it hit the truck,” Isnadi told state-run news agency Antara.
Local media reported that an engineer and a technician from the driver’s compartment were among the dead.
In the early evening, a team was seen trying to tow the derailed carriage with another train that had arrived at the scene.
The tanker was owned by state-owned company Pertamina, which has assisted with the evacuation.
Train accidents, especially at crossings, are common on Indonesia’s ageing and poorly maintained railroad network.
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