JAKARTA, Indonesia — A massive fire raged through an overcrowded prison near Indonesia’s capital early Wednesday, killing at least 41 inmates and injuring 80 others.
The fires had been extinguished for about two hours and hundreds of police and soldiers were deployed around the prison to prevent prisoners from escaping, Jakarta Police Chief Fadil Imran told reporters near the scene.
Televised footage showed firefighters battling to extinguish orange flames while black smoke billowed from the compound. Dozens of bodies in orange bags were laid in a room of Tangerang prison on the outskirts of Jakarta.
“The situation is now under control,” Imran said, adding that at least 41 inmates were killed and 80 are hospitalized, eight of them with severe burns.
Authorities are still investigating the cause but the preliminary investigation pointed to a short circuit in one of the block’s cell, Imran said.
Tangerang prison was designed to house 1,225 inmates but has more than 2,000, said Rika Aprianti, spokesperson for the corrections department at the Justice Ministry. Block C, where the fire occurred, was stuffed full of 122 convicts.
She said 15 prison officers guarding the area were unhurt.
Jailbreaks and riots that led to fire are common in Indonesia, where overcrowding has become a problem in prisons that are struggling with poor funding and large numbers of people arrested in a war on illegal drugs.