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Fire Kills at Least 41 Inmates at Indonesian Prison


Officers stand near bags containing the bodies of victims of a prison fire at a local hospital, following a fire overnight at an overcrowded jail in Tangerang, Indonesia, Sept. 8, 2021. (Antara Foto/Muhammad Iqbal/via Reuters)

A fire early Wednesday at the overcrowded Tangerang prison in Indonesia killed at least 41 inmates.

Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly told reporters in Jakarta that the fire started around 1:45 a.m. local time. He said the cause appeared to be an “electrical short circuit” but that police were still investigating.

The minister said firefighters came within 13 minutes of being called, “but some of the inmates' cells were locked, and it was too late to help them. It took an hour and a half to extinguish the fire.”

The prison, which housed 2,072 inmates, was running at 400% over capacity, he said.

The area where the fire broke out housed 122 inmates. Of those, 40 died at the scene, and another died on the way to the hospital, he said, adding that eight people were hospitalized and 31 were treated at the prison clinic.

Among the 41 inmates who died, one was a convicted murderer, and another was convicted of terrorism. Others were found guilty of drug crimes. A Portuguese citizen and a South African were among the inmates killed.

“We have informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the embassies to convey this sad news to the families of the victims,” said Laoly.

Jakarta Metro Police Chief Inspector General Fadil Imran told VOA that hundreds of police and soldiers had been deployed around the prison to prevent inmates from escaping.

VOA Indonesian Service’s Eva Mazrieva contributed to this report. Some information came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.