Yogyakarta. A junior high school teacher in Yogyakarta was named suspect after at least eight students were killed by flashflood during a trip along a river bank on Friday involving hundreds of Boy and Girl Scouts.
The teacher, identified by initials I.Y.A., led a scouting group of nearly 250 students aged between 13 and 16 years old of a state school in Turi, Sleman District, Yogyakarta, for a field trip in nearby Sempor River.
A flashflood from the upstream swept the groups and many of them were dragged by the current of the river.
According to police, 216 students survived the accident without harm, 23 were injured and eight were killed.
Yogyakarta Police spokesman Senior Comr. Yuliyanto said I.Y.A. was charged with criminal negligence causing death.
“He is still facing questioning and according to his dossier he has become a suspect,” Yuliyanto said at his office in Yogyakarta on Saturday.
The suspect is the school’s scouting group leader and physical education teacher, he said.
The criminal negligence charge carries a maximum sentence of up to five years imprisonment.
Police have so far interrogated 13 witnesses who were split into three groups. The first group comprises seven scouting group mentors.
“Of those seven, six accompanied the students during the trip and one was left at the school to take care of the students’ belongings,” Yuliyanto said.
The second group of witnesses included three officials from the district scouting group as police needed to learn their internal regulations regarding safety, he said.
The third group involved three residents who witnessed the accident.
Yuliyanto said it was likely that more people would be named suspects after the initial investigation was completed.
Social Affairs Minister Juliari Batubara said the government would cover all the medical costs of the injured students and pay a compensation of Rp 15 million ($1,088) to any family who lost a child in the accident. He supported police investigation into the case.
“This accident has claimed lives so of course there must be an investigation to determine the cause,” he said when visiting a local hospital to meet with the victims.