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12 die in three-day traffic jam during Ramadan in Indonesia

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JAKARTA — Twelve people have died during a massive three-day traffic jam in Indonesia that stretched more than 20 kilometres and brought thousands of holidaymakers to a complete standstill, an official says.

Roads across the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country are choked every year at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, as millions head to villages to celebrate Eid, which fell on Wednesday.

The horror traffic at a major highway junction at Brebes, a city on the main island of Java, was so bad that Indonesians dubbed the disastrous toll gate “Brexit”, from the words “Brebes exit”.

But the chaos at the “Brexit” junction this year was particularly acute in the three days before Eid, as tens of thousands of cars crammed the arterial highway, transport ministry spokesman Hemi Pramuraharjo said.

“In terms of this Brexit case, there’s been a total of 12 victims over different days,” he said.

Mr Pramuraharjo said several of the victims were elderly while others died from fatigue and other health complications.

Local media reported that a one-year-old suffering from fume poisoning was also among the deceased.

More than 400 motorists had died on Indonesia’s roads so far this holiday season, including those in the “Brexit” jam, Mr Pramuraharjo said.

Accidents are not uncommon during the holiday odysseys, particularly on the potholed roads of overcrowded Java, home to more than half of Indonesia’s 255 million people.

Aerial shots captured a sea of motionless vehicles, with some drivers seeking respite on the roadside.

Mr Pramuraharjo said roadside vendors and crowded markets near the junction compounded the chaos, leading to traffic snarls “more than 20 kilometres” in length.

“There is a bottleneck there, where there’s a petrol station very nearby and many people queue,” he said.

“There’s no space on the road. We don’t have a solution.”

Responding to the controversy, the health ministry urged motorists planning a long journey to rest and take all necessary precautions.

The ministry’s Achmad Yurianto said in a statement the heavy use of air conditioning could also lead to an increase in carbon dioxide within the cramped confines of the car.

AFP

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2 injured as bomb goes off at Ward Chair’s house

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DAMAK — An unidentified group detonated a bomb at the house of Bhim Poudel, a Ward Chairperson of the Damak Municipality Ward Number 7, last night, injuring two people including a woman.

The injured were hit by shrapnel due to the explosion. The explosion has also caused minor damages to the house which is located some 500 metres to the east of the Area Police Office, Damak.

It was a powerful explosion and it is not known who carried it out, police said.

Those injured in the incident are Semu Rai and Tilochan Pokhrel who had come to visit their relatives at the house next to Poudel’s house.

Both them who have been wounded in the hands and legs are being treated at the Lifeline Hospital in Damak. Rai is a staff at the same hospital.

Police has started an investigation into the case. Meanwhile, the Nepal Communist Party led by Netra Bikram Chand (Biplav) has today issued a press release saying those playing main role in evicting the landless squatters in the disputed market area in Damak. It had specifically named Wrad Chair Poudel and Mayor Romnath Oli.

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