Police gathered at Tangerang prison

At least 41 people have died in Indonesia after a fire broke out at an overcrowded prison on the outskirts of the capital Jakarta.

The blaze broke out in the early hours of Wednesday morning at Tangerang jail, when most of the prisoners were asleep.

There were 122 inmates staying in Block C – the prison block that was affected – far more than the 40-person capacity.

Some foreigners, including inmates from Portugal and South Africa, are among the victims.

Indonesia’s Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly said in a press conference that the embassies of the respective countries had been informed.

Mr Laoly added that multiple rooms in the prison block had been locked and could not be opened as the fire spread.

The block housed inmates held for drug-related offences. One victim was reported to be a murder convict, the other found guilty of terrorism, and the rest were in prison for crimes involving drugs.

Dozens more people are said to be injured, with some in ICU.

A short circuit is suspected to be the cause of the fire, though the spokeswoman for Indonesian correctional institutions said this was yet to be confirmed and would be investigated further.

Only 15 guards were on duty for the entire building, which housed 2,000 inmates – a far higher number than its intended 600-person capacity. Prison overcapacity is a persistent problem in Indonesian jails.

Source: bbc.com

Benedicta Okunor

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