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Train roof caves in, 46 hospitalized JAKARTA - Passengers related hearing frightening noises of creaking ironwork before the roof of an overcrowded train car caved in Friday morning in Jakarta, leaving hundreds injured in the ensuing panic. Witnesses said most people were hurt as they tried to escape, or were thrown from the roof when the train came to a sudden halt on the route from Rangkas Bitung in Banten to Kota, West Jakarta. At least 46 people were hospitalized.

Witnesses and an official of state railway company PT KAI also said the car -- with maximum capacity for 106 standing passengers -- was grossly overcrowded, with many people forced to find space on the roof. "There must have been about 400 people in total in the inside and sitting on the roof," said Hasbullah Sudarno, who was treated for abdominal and leg injuries. There were only four cars on Friday instead of the usual six, he said.

"When we reached Pondok Ranji station, I sensed that there was something wrong with the structure of the wagon. Shortly after that, when we got to the Tanah Kusir area, the iron framework of the roof started creaking, making a frightening noise," the 49 year old added. The roof caved in along a stretch of track near Tanah Kusir, and the train came to a halt when someone pulled the emergency brake.

"I could see smoke coming from the iron wheels, while the situation inside the car was horrible. People were tossed around," he said. "What made matters worse was that the chassis of the car disintegrated, causing the floor to buckle near the center, with the rear of the car flipping up and tossing people back into the center."

PT KAI spokesman Ahmad Sujadi said the probable cause of the accident was overcrowding, particularly due to passengers sitting on the roof. "The train carried three times its standard capacity and the passengers also took up the whole roof, making the roof construction bend and collapse," he said.

Ahmad said the company posted notices on billboards and noticeboards at all stations forbidding people from riding on the roof. "We have even put barbed wire on the roofs of some cars. But that doesn't stop them," he said. PT KAI will cover hospital treatment for all passengers holding tickets. "Those, who were riding on the train roof didn't pay for a ticket. Since they wouldn't listen to our warnings, I think they should bear the risk themselves," Ahmad said.



Posted in Accidents @ 04 March 2006 09:52 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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