Indonesian prison fire kills at least 41 people

A prison fire in Indonesia has killed at least 41 people and injured eight others, authorities said on Wednesday, adding to the sense of...


A prison fire in Indonesia has killed at least 41 people and injured eight others, authorities said on Wednesday, adding to the sense of crisis facing the country’s overcrowded correctional system, which has already been rocked by the pandemic.

The cause of the fire at Tangerang prison, about 40 kilometers west of Jakarta, the country’s capital, is still under investigation, said Rika Aprianti, spokesperson for the branch. prisons. But Jakarta police said they suspected it was caused by a short circuit in the prison’s electrical system.

The image of dozens of orange body bags lying on the floor of a hospital was broadcast on national television in Indonesia on Wednesday morning, taking stock of the blaze.

Yasonna Laoly, the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, visited the prison on Wednesday to inspect the damage, and said he had asked staff to focus on evacuating the prison and reestablishing the victims.

“I offer my deepest condolences to the victims of this fire,” he said, adding that an investigation was underway. “It’s a tragedy that concerns us all. “

Police said eight people were seriously injured in the blaze, although local media reported more than 70 sustained minor injuries. All those killed were prisoners, authorities said.

Ms Aprianti said the fire started at around 1:45 a.m. in a cell block for prisoners convicted of narcotics cases.

Tangerang Prison is located in Banten Province, Tangerang, an industrial center at the western tip of the island of Java in Indonesia.

The prison was grappling with overcapacity, Ms Aprianti said, with 2,069 inmates occupying a facility built to accommodate 900 prisoners. She said only 13 guards were available to monitor the entire prison population during each shift. “This is the challenge we face,” she said.

Authorities said the prison was working to identify victims and communicate with affected families.

The fire is likely to fuel the debate in Indonesia on the state of the prison system. As of March 2020, the country had around 270,000 detainees, according to data cited by Human Rights Watch, which indicated that this estimate was more than double the capacity of the system.

The pandemic has exacerbated the problems associated with overpopulation. Human rights activists in recent months called on the government to reduce the prison population after inmates were infected with Covid-19 in more than a dozen institutions across the country.

A report last year by Human Rights Watch on the spread of Covid-19 in the country’s prisons described a penitentiary system ill-equipped to contain epidemics and to treat sick inmates. He cited gaps in health care, water, sanitation and hygiene.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Indonesian prison fire kills at least 41 people
Indonesian prison fire kills at least 41 people
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