The accidents occurred 30 minutes apart on the main island of Java.
At 2:30 a.m., a train stopped on a track outside Banjar, a village in West Java province, and was hit head-on by a slow-moving train that was trying to switch lanes. “We’re still investigating,” said Bambang Ervan, a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry, as rescuers shuttled dozens of injured to nearby hospitals.
Three people died, he said, revising the toll downwards after two other victims -- wedged between the wreckage and previously thought to be dead -- turned out to be alive.
Thirty minutes later and 225 miles (360 kilometers) to the west, a ferry carrying more than 400 people caught fire in waters just off Java, sending panicked passengers jumping into the water.
Ervan said 13 people were killed in the blaze, which broke out just 40 minutes after the ship left Merak port for neighboring Sumatra island.
Billowing clouds of black smoke could be seen from the shore, just a few hundred yards away, and five rescue ships rushed to the scene to bring frightened survivors to shore.
Nearly 200 were injured, some seriously, hospital officials said. Rescue workers lifted victims onto stretchers and placed them into the backs of pickup trucks. Elsewhere, a man was seen carrying a young child’s covered body.
Ervan said the cause of the accident was still being investigated.
It appears the fire broke out on the deck used by cars and trucks loaded with cargo, he said. Witnesses on MetroTV blamed one of the drivers, saying he had thrown down a lit cigarette butt.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, a Singapore-registered asphalt tanker sank off Bintan island -- an Indonesian island near Singapore -- while heading to central Indonesia. Maj. Eko Harianto of a local navy base said all 14 Thai crew were rescued.
Indonesia, an archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands and 235 million people, has been plagued by a string of transportation accidents in recent years, from plane and train crashes to ferry sinkings. Overcrowding, aging infrastructure and poor safety standards are often to blame.