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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.

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“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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5 dead as gunman attacks churchgoers in Russia

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At least five people were killed and another five were injured when a gunman attacked a crowd of people leaving a church on Sunday in Russia’s southern province of Dagestan, Russian news agencies reported.

The attack occurred in the village of Kizlyar in the Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan.

Russian news agencies said the attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the eastern Orthodox calendar.

CCTV footage from the site of the deadly shooting shows a man armed with a rifle gunning down two women in broad daylight.

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A bearded man clad in a black vest and camouflage pants was seen crossing the street before opening fire on two female churchgoers as they left a service in Kizlyar in the Republic of Dagestan on Sunday afternoon. A woman walking several meters from the attacker was seen rushing away as the bloodshed unfolded.

The attacker was identified as a 22-year-old man local to the region, the TASS news agency said, citing the investigative committee.

He was shot and killed by security services who were on duty nearby, TASS said, adding that a hunting rifle, bullets and a knife were discovered on his person.

Initial reports suggested all five victims were women, TASS said, citing the local branch of the interior ministry.

Agencies

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