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Deadly Indonesia Stampede Caused by Ramadan Cash Hand-Out

At least 23 people in Indonesia were crushed to death when a crowd surged forward to receive a cash hand-out from a wealthy family, part of a tradition during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. In addition to the deaths, several people were critically injured. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta has more.

The deadly stampede took place in the eastern Indonesian town of Pasuran, located around 800 kilometers east of the capital Jakarta.

Local officials say hundreds of people were waiting for a cash hand-out of around four dollars when the crowd pushed forward, trapping and crushing many of the victims against a fence.

The cash hand-out was from a wealthy family observing a long-standing tradition of giving during the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan.

The town mayor blamed the tragedy on lack of coordination with the police during the charity event.

Political analyst Sandyawan says this tragedy shows the government remains strong, while the ordinary people remain weak.

He says the government blames the people for not coordinating with the police, when in fact it is the government's responsibility to protect the people.

Similar deaths have occurred during other charity events during Ramadan and also during live music events in the country.

Political analyst Sandyawan says the tragedy illustrates the deep poverty in the country.

He says the government wants to show the international community a positive image of Indonesia, but events such as this tragedy illustrate the real conditions in the country facing poor people.

Indonesia, a democratic secular nation, has the world's largest population of Muslims.