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At least 18 die in Indonesian ferry fire, train crash

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R euters/Aulia Pratama

At least 13 people have died in a ferry fire in Indonesia, with a train crash taking at least five lives. The almost simultaneous accidents once again threw the spotlight on the massive country’s disaster-prone transport system.


The fire on the ferry started on the car deck, transport ministry officials have revealed. But they have refused to confirm reports by Metro TV that it may have been caused by a crew member smoking.

Amateur footage showed flames blazing from the ferry’s windows during the night. Passengers jumped into the Sunda Strait, the channel between Java and Sumatra islands which the ferry was crossing.

A total of 535 passengers and 32 crew members were on board, according to officials who say that 458 people, including 31 crew, have been rescued.

The ministry is investigating the origins of both accidents.

At least five people were killed and 21 hospitalised in a train crash, which took place at almost the same time as the ferry fire, in West Java province. Several people were trapped inside the crumpled carriages.

Officials say that they do not know why two trains were on the same track.

Metro TV says it may have been caused by a signalling error by a station staff member.

Transport accidents are frequent in Indonesia. A 2009 ferry disaster cost up to 335 lives.

There were 128 maritime casualty reports in 2010, up four on 2009, according to a report by the National Commission for Transport Safety, but the number of deaths was down - from 247 to 185.

Sixteen international flights to and from the island of Bali were cancelled Friday because of ash clouds from the Mount Bromo volcano.