As black smoke rose from the Tangerang prison compound on the outskirts Jakarta, firefighters battled until the wee hours of the morning to put out the flames.
After the fire was out, Red Cross workers drove ambulance after ambulance with bodies bags filled with victims to the local hospital morgue. There they were placed wall-to-wall in a room, awaiting identification at a larger facility.
Throughout the day, relatives of prisoners poured into the prison to see if their loved ones had been killed.
The majority of the 41 people who were killed were drug convicts. One was from South Africa and one from Portugal. Other victims included a terrorist convict and a murderer.
He offered his condolences to the families of the victims, and vowed to offer the best care for those who were injured.
Laoly stated that "This is a tragedy which concerns all of us." "We are working closely together with all relevant parties in order to investigate the cause of the fire.
The prison's Block C2 was the scene of the fire. It took place at 1:45 AM. There were 19 cells in the prison that could hold 40 prisoners, but were filled with more than three times that amount. According to preliminary findings, the cause of the fire appears to be an electrical short circuit according to Jakarta Police Chief Fadil Iran.
Imran said that hundreds of soldiers and police were deployed around the prison as the fire was under control to stop prisoners from fleeing.
Problems are rampant in Indonesia's prisons, largely due to overcrowding. Over half of Indonesia's prisoners are held for narcotics offenses. This is a result of the country’s war on drugs.
There were 268,610 Indonesian prisoners as of July. The prisons were designed to house 132,107 persons.
Tangerang prison is located in the middle of Tangerang, Jakarta's neighboring provincial of Banten. It was built to hold 900 inmates, but it has over 2,000, Laoly stated. Officials previously stated that it was designed to house 1,225 inmates.
In order to reduce the number of prisoners, the government acknowledged the problem and will refocus its approach to drug offenders.
Reynhard Silitonga from the Ministry of Law and Human Rights was the head of corrections and told The Associated Press via email that if the policy is not changed, inmates could reach 400,000 in five years.
He stated that the new approach to drug offenders, particularly users, is directed towards the health aspect and not imprisonment.
He didn't say how long it would take for the changes to be implemented.
Eight inmates died from the Tangerang fire. Nine others were left with minor injuries and were admitted to a hospital. Another 64 inmates, many of whom had suffered smoke inhalation, were taken to the mosque within the compound for observation.
Rika Aprianti spoke on behalf of the corrections department, saying that the 15 officers who were guarding the cell block were not hurt.
Agus Toyib is the Banten provincial human rights and law office. He said that understaffing at Tangerang had caused delays in the rescue of inmates.
He said that most victims caught fire because they didn't have time to escape their cells, and that the fire was growing quickly.