Local television showed several carriages had overturned or were badly mangled while authorities and residents used bamboo poles to remove bodies and trapped passengers. At least 36 people were killed and dozens injured in the crash, according to a local hospital.
“I was sleeping at the back carriage then I was awoken by a loud bang and people were shouting for help, I rushed out to see the front of the train was destroyed,” Suanto, a crew member of the train that hit the stationary train, told Reuters.
Suanto, who like many Indonesians uses one name, did not suffer any injuries.
Indonesia needs to spend billions of dollars on improving its ageing infrastructure, including roads, power plants, railways, and airports.
Underinvestment in the years since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis has resulted in several accidents in the transport sector, and has hampered economic development, with the result that Indonesia’s GDP growth is well below potential and lags that of China and India.
The accident happened at about 02:45 local time (19:45 GMT Friday) in Petarukan train station, Pemalang, on the north coast of Central Java.
Hengky Susilo Hadi, head of a local search and rescue unit, said it was possible “additional victims” were still trapped in the wreckage.
Sugeng Priyono, spokesperson for the national railway PT Kereta Api Indonesia, said the Argo Bromo Anggrek train was travelling from Jakarta to the East Java provincial capital city of Surabaya, when it ploughed into the stationary Senja Utama train before dawn.
“The Petarukan station is where double tracks change to a single track. Initial report is that the Argo Bromo Anggrek train had not yet been given permission to go ahead when it hit the other train. However, this is still under investigation, so there could be other causes.”