Early-morning train crash in Indonesia kills dozens

Human error has been blamed after at least 36 people died when when a passenger train slammed into the back of another train in Central Java province.

epa02368072 Rescue workers and residents evacuate a victim of a train crash in Pemalang, Central Java, Indonesia, 02 October 2010. At least 35 people were killed and 13 others injured when two passenger trains collided in IndonesiaÔs Central Java province, hospital staff said. The Argo Anggrek train was travelling from Jakarta to the East Java capital of Surabaya when it ploughed into the stationary Senja Utama before dawn in Pemalang district.  EPA/YUSUF GANI
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PEMALANG // At least 36 people were killed today when a passenger train slammed into the back of another train in Indonesia, leaving dozens trapped in the mangled wreckage, an official said.

Police said human error was to blame for the accident, which occurred early in the morning at a station in Petarukan Pemalang, Central Java province.

"Thirty six people were killed and more than 30 were badly injured," national police spokesman Iskandar Hasan said.

All of the passengers had been freed from the train, according to a spokesman for the transport ministry. "All the victims have been extracted from the train and taken to hospital," Bambang Ervan told AFP.

Officers at the scene said a train headed to Surabaya smashed into the rear carriages of a Semarang-bound locomotive that was waiting at the platform.

Ten hours after the accident the death toll was still being updated, amid media reports that rescue workers were late to arrive and lacked proper equipment to free passengers trapped in the wreckage.

National railway operator spokesman Sugeng Priyono said the rescue was delayed. "The rescue came late today because the heavy machineries were located far away from the accident location," he said.

Many of the dead and injured were trapped in three carriages, which had derailed and flipped over, officials said.

A man living beside the station said the noise of the collision woke him from his sleep. Then he heard people wailing.

"Suddenly I heard a loud crashing and the sound of many people crying. I saw many passengers had been thrown outside the carriages," he said.

A passenger on the stationary train said he was asleep when he felt a powerful thump and fled the carriage.

"It was really scary. I went outside and realised that the rear carriages had been smashed," he said.

A survivor from the other train said he was very traumatised."I don't want to ride in trains anymore," he was quoted as saying by Detik news website.

A team of investigators had been dispatched from Jakarta but a national police spokesman, Iskandar Hasan, said the accident was believed to be a result of human error. "The suspected cause of the accident was a mistake in the traffic management system," he said.

In June eight people were killed when several carriages of a packed passenger train derailed as it travelled across Java, one of the most densely populated islands in the world.

Poor infrastructure, corruption and weak safety standards are often cited as factors contributing to frequent transport disasters in Indonesia, especially on ferries linking the country's thousands of islands.