Indonesian police arrest engineer of train in crash that killed 36 people

By Kuncoro Wijayanto, AP
Sunday, October 3, 2010

Police arrest engineer in Indonesian train crash

PETARUKAN, Indonesia — Police arrested the engineer of a train that plowed into another at a station, killing 36 people — the latest in a string of accidents in Indonesia blamed on aging infrastructure and poor safety standards.

Halik Rudianto was driving a first-class train as it crashed early Saturday into an economy-class train stopped at a station in Petarukan, a coastal city in Central Java province, knocking several carriages off the track.

Transportation Minister Freddy Numberi accused him of failing to stop at a red signal — an act of negligence leading to deaths, Kompas newspaper reported Sunday.

He has been “named as suspect and officially arrested,” said police spokesman Col. Djoko Erwanto.

He could face up to 6 1/2 years in jail if found guilty.

The pre-dawn accident occurred as many passengers were sleeping. Villagers, railway officials and some passengers used their bare hands and bamboo sticks to search the mangled wreckage for survivors until heavy equipment arrived.

Thirty-six people were killed and more than 40 people were hurt, some with severe injuries and broken bones, doctors and nurses said.

Indonesia has been hit by a series of plane, train and ferry accidents in recent years that have killed hundreds.

Experts say the country’s dilapidated infrastructure, poor law enforcement, corruption and a tendency to ignore even basic safety standards were partly to blame.

Associated Press Writer Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta contributed to this report.

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