Fire kills 41 inmates, 80 hurt at crowded Indonesian prison
JAKARTA: A massive fire raged through an overcrowded prison near Indonesia’s capital early on Wednesday, killing at least 41 inmates, two of them foreigners serving drug sentences, and injuring 80 others.
Firefighters battled through the early morning hours to extinguish the flames as black smoke billowed from the compound of the Tangerang prison on the outskirts of Jakarta.
After the blaze was extinguished, ambulance after ambulance filled with body bags containing the victims were driven by Red Cross workers to the morgue of a local hospital, where they were stacked wall-to-wall on the floor of a room awaiting transport to a larger facility for identification.
Relatives of prisoners trickled into the prison throughout the day to check and see whether their loved ones were among those killed.
Most of the 41 killed were drug convicts, including a man from South Africa and a man from Portugal, while other victims included a terrorism convict and a murderer, Indonesia’s Law and Human Rights Minister Yasona Laoly told reporters.
He expressed his deep condolences for the families of the victims and pledged to provide the best treatment for those injured.
“This is a tragedy that concerns all of us,” Laoly said. “We are working closely with all relevant parties to investigate the causes of the fire.”
The fire broke out at 1:45am in Block C2 of the prison, where the 19 cells that were built to hold 40 inmates were stuffed full with more than triple that number. The cause of the blaze appears to have been an electrical short circuit, according to initial findings, Jakarta Police Chief Fadil Imran said. – AP