At least 41 inmates died in a fire at a prison in Indonesia

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A fire at a prison in Indonesia, just outside the capital Jakarta, killed at least 41 people and seriously injured eight more, the authorities said Wednesday. The prisoners were trapped in their locked cells as the fire spread. 73 people suffered minor injuries, according to the authorities. The cause of the fire at the Tangerang prison, about 25 miles west of the capital, Jakarta, was still under investigation, said Rika Aprianti, a spokeswoman for the Directorate General of Prisons. There are suppositions about a short circuit which occurred in the prison’s electrical system. 12 fire trucks were at the scene.

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The prison was built in 1972, and the electrical system hadn’t been updated in decades. It was built to hold 900 prisoners but there were more tha 2000 at the moment when the blaze erupted. Human rights activists in recent months have called on the government to reduce the prison population after inmates were infected with Covid-19 at more than a dozen facilities. Deficiences in health care, water, sanitation and hygiene were constated. unsanitary conditions are common in Indonesian prisons, which contain about 270,000 inmates. Television footage showed firefighters battling the fire at the prison, which was surrounded by a concrete wall and engulfed in flames. The majority of inmates killed in the blaze had been imprisoned for drug-related offenses. Prison staff members managed to unlock some cells, and 75 people were evacuated.