Portuguese, South African among 41 killed in Indonesia jail blaze

A police vehicle is seen outside Tangerang Hospital, where the remains of people killed in a fire at Tangerang Prison are kept, in Banten province, Indonesia, September 8, 2021.
A police vehicle is seen outside Tangerang Hospital, where the remains of people killed in a fire at Tangerang Prison are kept, in Banten province, Indonesia, September 8, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Yuddy Cahya

A fire tore through an overcrowded block in a jail in Indonesia's Banten province in the early hours of Wednesday, killing at least 41 people and injuring dozens, a government spokesperson and media reports said.

Two foreign nationals were among 41 inmates killed in the fire the country's law and human rights minister Yasonna Laoly told a news conference - the foreigners were from South Africa and Portugal.

The fire, which broke out at 1 to 2am at the Tangerang Prison Block C, had been extinguished and authorities were still evacuating the facility, said Rika Aprianti, a spokesperson of the prison department of the law and human rights ministry.

“The cause is under investigation,” she said.

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.

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.

“The initial suspicion is this was because of an electrical short circuit,” police spokesperson Yusri Yunus told Metro TV, which cited a police report saying that 73 people also had light injuries. 

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