In the early hours of September 8th, a fire broke out in an overcrowded Indonesian prison, leaving at least 40 dead.
The prison Indonesia’s Banten province also injured dozens.
A #fire has ripped through an overcrowded block in a jail in #Indonesia’s Banten province, killing at least 40 people and injuring dozens more, a government spokeswoman and media reports say.https://t.co/GB9W4sgCxd
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) September 8, 2021
The fire, which broke out at 1 to 2 a.m. at the Tangerang Prison Block C, had been extinguished and authorities were still evacuating the facility, said Rika Aprianti, a spokeswoman of the prison department of the law and human rights ministry.
The block housed inmates being held for drug-related offences and had a capacity for 122 people, she said.
She did not say how many people were present when the fire broke out, but confirmed the jail was overcrowded.
The prison in Tangerang, an industrial and manufacturing hub near Jakarta, housed more than 2,000 inmates, far more than its 600 people capacity, according to government data as of September.
According to Aprianti, things were a bit different. She said that 2,069 inmates occupying a facility built to hold 900 prisoners.
She said that only 13 guards were available to monitor the entire prison population during each shift.
“That’s the challenge we are facing,” she said.
The cause of the fire at the Tangerang prison was still under investigation, said Rika Aprianti, a spokeswoman for the Directorate General of Prisons. But the Jakarta police said they suspected that it had been caused by a short circuit in the prison’s electrical system.
Yasonna Laoly, the minister of law and human rights, visited the prison to inspect the damage, and said he had instructed staff to focus on the evacuation of the prison and the recovery of the victims.
“I convey my deepest condolences for the victims of this fire,” he said, adding that an investigation was underway. “This is a tragedy that concerns all of us.”
Kompas TV showed footage of firefighters trying to put out huge flames from the top of a building. The broadcaster reported 41 people had died and 8 had been seriously injured.
Kebakaran melanda Lembaga Pemasyarakatan (Lapas) Kelas 1 Tangerang, Kota Tangerang, pada hari Rabu 8 September 2021 dini hari. Kebakaran ini menyebabkan sebanyak 72 orang mengalami luka-luka dan 41 orang meninggal dunia.https://t.co/2CtfB1pHHg pic.twitter.com/wfjngFCnVI
— KOMPAS TV (@KompasTV) September 8, 2021
“The initial suspicion is this was because of an electrical short circuit,” police spokesman Yusri Yunus told Metro TV, which cited a police report saying that 73 people also had light injuries.
Those who were injured were taken to two hospitals in Tangerang while those who were unharmed were taken to a different facility within the prison complex, according to the Beritasatu news website.
The fire is likely to fuel debate in Indonesia about the state of the prison system. As of March 2020, the country had roughly 270,000 inmates, according to data cited by Human Rights Watch, which said that estimate was more than double the system’s capacity.
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