Indonesia prison incident kills at least 41 inmates, dozens injured

At least 41 prisoners have been killed and at least eight injured after a fire tore through an overcrowded prison block on the outskirts of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, police said. The fire broke out in the early hours of Wednesday at around 3:00 am (2000 GMT Tuesday), when most inmates were asleep. Firefighters extinguished the blaze, which was mostly contained within one block that housed prisoners jailed on drug charges and evacuated the victims.

The fire, which broke out at the Tangerang Prison Block C, has been extinguished and authorities are still evacuating the facility, said Rika Aprianti, a spokeswoman of the corrections department of the law and human rights ministry. She did not say how many people were present when the fire broke out, but confirmed the jail was overcrowded. Television footage showed a massive fire raging through the prison block, with thick smoke billowing from the building as firefighters raced to put out the flames. “Forty-one inmates died, eight were badly injured and 72 others sustained minor injuries,” Jakarta police chief Fadil Imran told a press conference. Authorities were still investigating the cause of the incident at Tangerang Penitentiary, just outside the capital Jakarta. Investigators from the fire department said that they are also looking at the defective electrical wiring as a source of the fire. The block housed inmates being held for drug-related offenses and had a capacity for 122 people.

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. Indonesia’s Metro TV cited a police report saying that 73 people also had light injuries.