Sat, Jul 09, 2016 - Page 6 News List

Twelve people die in giant Indonesian traffic jam: official

AFP, BREBES, Indonesia

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

The horror traffic at a major highway junction in 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.”

Roads across the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation are choked every year at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, as millions head to villages to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which fell on Wednesday, but the chaos at the “Brexit” junction this year was particularly acute in the three days before Eid al-Fitr, as tens of thousands of cars crammed the arterial highway, Indonesian Ministry of Transportation spokesman Hemi Pramuraharjo said.

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

The deaths occurred between Sunday and Tuesday, not in a single day as earlier reported, he said.

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 have died on Indonesia’s roads so far this holiday season, including those in the “Brexit” jam, Pramuraharjo said.

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

At the “Brexit” snarl, frustrated motorists posted pictures to social media showing cars snaked back for kilometers. Aerial shots captured a sea of motionless vehicles, with some drivers seeking respite on the roadside.

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

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