A fire in an overcrowded block of jail in Banten province of Indonesia has killed 41 people and injured 72 people in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Police are looking into the cause of the blaze which broke out between 1 and 2 am of the local time at the Tangerang Prison.
Indonesian Minister for Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly confirmed that the jail was overcrowded. Laoly said that the prisoners were locked in when the fire broke out and some cells remained closed.
The Minister added that there were two international prisoners among the dead, one from South Africa and one from Portugal. She said, “We’re working together with relevant authorities to look into the causes of the fire and, of course, formulating prevention strategies so that severe catastrophes like this won’t happen again.”
There were 122 inmates staying in the worst-affected Block C – far more than the original capacity of 40 prisoners.
At least 8 of the injured inmates are reported to be in critical condition. There may have also been a shortage of fire extinguishers at the scene.
The Fire Department believes that the defective electrical wires may have been the source of the fire. Minister Laoly said that the prison wiring had not been upgraded since the establishment of the prison in 1972.
The government data for the month of September shows that the prison housed 2,000 prisoners, far more than its 600 capacity.