A Jakarta train crash has killed at least two people, and the scene is still burning. Firefighters are continuing with attempts to contain the flames and determining the condition of passengers caught in the explosion. The train struck a truck carrying containers of liquefied gas which exploded on contact, causing a giant fireball and a large amount of black smoke which may be slowing down the rescue efforts.
The incident occurred at 11:21 local time at a railroad crossing in Bintao Permai, located in the southern part of Jakarta. Both spokeswoman Eva Chairunisa from the state-owned rail company, PT KAI, and Chief Wahyuhadiningrat of the South Jakarta Police have confirmed at least two people perished in the crash. One of those killed in the explosion was the engineer. There remains a lot of investigation to be done in order to determine the severity of injuries to any other passengers from the train. While information is beginning to come out about the crash, at this early stage it is difficult to pin anyone down on specifics. The rescue of people still in harms way however, seems to be everyone’s priority.
This is the second railway within a week for PT KAI. On Wednesday, December 5, 2013 there was a derailment of the first three cars of a train consisting of 20 in Central Java that was leaving from Jakarta. A spokesperson for the beleaguered rail company confirmed that the derailment happened at the 174 kilometer point between the stations of Balakumba and Tanjung. The train was headed to Surabaya in East Java from Jakarta. Unlike tonight’s train crash in Jakarta proper, where alt least two people were killed, there were no fatalities. Damage was extensive both to the train and the tracks, however. Service was re-routed, but there were significant delays due to other track repairs that were going on in the area to tracks
The derailment was caused by a broken railway piece, that was said to be no more than 1.5 meters long. It is not known whether this section of track was part of the repair efforts in the area, or whether it was related at all. An initial report said that some witnesses reported that the driver had failed to slow down, despite signs indicating that a reduction in speed was required. The report did not specify whether the signs calling for that reduction in speed was due to repair work, or simply because of conditions in the area. Regardless, with this new incident tonight, there are bound to be many questions for commuter rail officials by morning.
There is no indication that the two incidents are in any way related other than the fact that they were both trains operated by the PT KAI, and were from Jakarta. While there is certainly no initial indication of any foul play, it has to at least be crossing government officials minds that two trains have come off of the rails within a week. When one involves an explosion because the train hit a truck that just happened to be carrying highly dangerous liquefied gas, an in-depth investigation seems warranted As at least two people have been killed by this second train crash, authorities in Jakarta are certainly looking for some answers.
By Jim Malone