JAKARTA -- Two crowded commuter trains collided head-on just south of Jakarta Tuesday morning, killing dozens of people and injuring more than 200 in Indonesia's worst rail disaster in six years.
The accident occured on a single-rail track in the village of Ratujaya in the Depok district, about 27 miles (45 km) south of Jakarta. Officials of the state-owned railway company PJKA said one of the trains was heading north toward the Indonesian capital and the other was traveling south to the city of Bogor in west Java.
No official death toll was immediately available, but the state-run news agency Antara reported 35 people had been killed. A private television station,Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia (RCTI), initially reported more than 90 people were killed but later scaled back that figure to 17.
A total of 223 injured people were treated at seven hospitals in Depok, Bogor and Jakarta, officials said.
Transportation Minister Haryanto Dhanutirto, who rushed to the scene, said he had ordered for an immediate investigation into the cause of the crash. He did not comment on suggestions that a stationmaster may have erred in allowing the two trains, which were traveling in the opposite direction, to use the single-rail track at the same time.
'Several railway officials stationed in Depok and Bojong Gede -- the nearby stations -- will be questioned about the cause of the accident,' Antara quoted Dhanutirto as saying.
Witnesses said the impact of the collision caused some of the cars, eight on the Jakarta-bound train and four on the train headed for Bogor, to buckle and fly into the air.
'There were many people trapped inside the railway coach,' one official said.
'I heard a lot of people screaming and crying for help,' said one volunteer rescuer who lives near the railroad tracks.
The accident occurred at the same site of another train disaster, a head-on collision 21 years ago that killed 67 passengers and injured 49 others.
Tuesday's collision was the worst train accident in Indonesia in six years. In 1987, a head-on train crash in 1987 in southern Jakarta killed more than 160 people and injured about 300 others.
Survivors of Tuesday's accident said many passengers were thrown from the train by the impact of the collision. Officials said most of those who were seriously injured had been sitting in the front cars, which were demolished in the crash.
Rail traffic to and from Bogor was shut down after the crash so rescue workers could begin combing through the wreckage for survivors. Police closed off traffic in the area as onlookers crowded around the scene.
Dhanutirto said rail traffic between Bogor and Jakarta would resume at normal levels by Wednesday.
A local military official questioned why the two trains, which had been traveling in the opposite direction, had been allowed to pass on the single track at the same time. He said he believed human error was to blame for the tragedy.
A communcations official said it appeared that the railway official in Depok station, about 0.6 miles (1 km) north of the accident site, had been supposed to hold the Bogor-bound train at Depok until the train headed for Jakarta had passed.
Security officials detained an engineer from the Bogor-bound train and a railway station official in Depok for questioning. The engineer of the Jakarta-bound train was killed in the accident.