Massive Fire In Overcrowded Indonesian Prison Kills 41 Inmates, Several Others Injured

By Siladitya Ray, Forbes Staff


At least 41 inmates were killed and 80 other inmates were injured on Wednesday morning after a massive fire broke out in a prison near the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, in what is the latest tragedy to hit the southeast Asian nation’s overcrowded prison system that has also been severely hit by Covid-19.

Police and hospital officials store body bags of dead victims at a morgue in a local general hospital in Tangerang after a prison fire broke out and killed 41 inmates. AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

According to authorities, 80 inmates have been hospitalized, including eight with severe burns.

The fire which broke out at the Tangerang prison, located 25 miles west of Jakarta, is believed to have been caused by a short circuit in the prison’s faulty electrical system, authorities noted.

All 15 prison officers guarding the area are unhurt, officials added.

According to the Associated Press, the prison was designed to house 1,225 inmates but had more than 2,000 people incarcerated there.

Crucial Quote

Yasonna Laoly, the minister of law and human rights, visited the prison on Wednesday to inspect the damage. He said: “This is a tragedy that concerns all of us. We are working closely with all relevant parties to investigate the causes of the fire.”

Key Background

Overcrowding has become a common problem for prisons in Indonesia as they struggle with poor funding and a large influx of people arrested in the country’s ongoing war on drugs. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), Indonesia’s prisons hold roughly 270,000 inmates—which is more than double the system’s estimated capacity. Inmates across the country have dealt with Covid-19 outbreaks in several prisons. Last year, when the pandemic began, HRW reported that the prison system was ill-equipped to contain outbreaks and to care for sick prisoners.

Further Reading

Fire kills 41 inmates, 80 hurt at crowded Indonesian prison (Associated Press)

COVID-19 Threatens Indonesia’s Overcrowded Prisons (Human Rights Watch)

What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.