Blaze tears through overcrowded prison leaving 40 dead and dozens injured

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A terrifying blaze has ripped through an overcrowded prison in Indonesia and killed at least 40 inmates, officials have said.

The deadly blaze tore through the young correctional facility in Jakarta in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

A government spokesperson said the fire broke out between 1 and 2am at the Tangerang Prison Block C.

It burned for around two hours and has now been extinguished, but authorities are still evacuating the facility, said Rika Apriantia, spokeswoman of the prison department of the law and human rights ministry.

"The cause is under investigation," she said.

The block houses inmates being held for drug-related offences and had a capacity for 122 people, she added.

However, the number of people present when the fire began has not been confirmed, but it has been reported the jail was overcrowded.

The prison in Tangerang, an industrial and manufacturing hub near Jakarta, housed more than 2,000 inmates.

This is far more than its 600 people capacity, according to government data as of September.

Kompas TV showed footage of fire crews attempting to put out huge flames from the top of a building. The broadcaster reported 41 people had died and 8 had been seriously injured.

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"The initial suspicion is this was because of an electrical short circuit," police spokesman Yusri Yunus told Metro TV, which cited a police report saying that 73 people also had light injuries.

Although investigations are underway, initial reports believe the fire occurred due to an electrical short.

"Initially, the fire was suspected to have occurred because of an electrical short. And the fire lasted for approximately 2 hours and now the firefighters and officers from the Directorate General of Pas and also the police can handle it," Metro Jaya Police Chief, Inspector General of Police Fadil Imran told Beritasatu news.

He added the current condition of the jail is under control.

"Currently the conditions are under control, the inmates who survived in the block have been temporarily moved, while the injured have been taken to the Sitanala Hospital and Tangerang Regency General Hospital as well as those who died have all been evacuated," he said.

A photograph from the scene shows the bright orange flames ripping through the structure, with debris on the ground and a scorched ceiling over the top of the site.

A heavy emergency response remains at the jail.

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