Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Sunday ordered swift rescue and relief efforts after eight people died in an earthquake that hit off southern Java island.
Three others were badly injured in Saturday’s magnitude-5.9 quake and more than 1,180 buildings were damaged, most of them slightly, the disaster agency BNPB said. Some houses were flattened, images in Indonesian media showed.
Two shelters for the displaced have been set up in the town of Lumajang.
All of the casualties were reported in 15 districts and cities in East Java, the closest province to the epicentre of the quake, which struck in the Indian Ocean.
“I have ordered … immediate emergency response to search and find victims under the rubble and to treat the wounded,” the president, known by his popular name Jokowi, said in broadcast remarks.
There were no reports of the quake disrupting production facilities, but the BNPB said 150 public facilities were damaged. Most industrial areas in East Java are located in the northern side of the island.
Jokowi noted that as Indonesia straddles the volcanic “Ring of Fire” in the Pacific, natural disasters such as earthquakes could happen anytime, adding that Indonesians should always be prepared.
The Southeast Asian nation was struck last week by tropical cyclone Seroja, which triggered landslides and flash floods killing more than 170 people on islands in East Nusa Tenggara province.
A magnitude-6.2 quake that hit Sulawesi island in January killed more than 100 people.
Landslides and flash floods from torrential rains in eastern Indonesia killed at least 41 people and displaced thousands, the country’s disaster relief agency said Sunday. More than two dozen others were still missing.
Mud tumbled down from surrounding hills onto dozens of homes in Lamenele village shortly after midnight on Adonara island in East Nusa Tenggara province. Rescuers recovered 35 bodies and at least five injured, said Lenny Ola, who heads the local disaster agency.
Flash flooding killed at least six people elsewhere, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. Relief efforts were hampered by power cuts, blocked roads covered in thick mud and debris as well as the remoteness of the area surrounded by choppy seas and high waves, said the agency’s spokesperson, Raditya Jati.
Seasonal downpours cause frequent landslides and floods, killing dozens each year in Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.
Indonesia’s disaster agency lowered the death toll late Sunday to 41 — down from 44 — after search and rescue team reverified victims’ data. At least 27 people were still missing.
The bodies of three people were recovered after being swept away by floods in Oyang Bayang village, where 40 houses were also destroyed, Ola said. Hundreds of people fled submerged homes, some of which were carried off by the floodwaters.
In another village, Waiburak, three people were killed and seven remained missing when overnight rains caused rivers to burst their banks, sending muddy water into large areas of East Flores district, Ola said. Four injured people were being treated at a local health clinic.
Hundreds of people were involved in rescue efforts, but distribution of aid and relief was hampered by power cuts, blocked roads and the remoteness of the area that’s surrounded by choppy waters and high waves, said the National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson, Raditya Jati.
Authorities were still collecting information about the full scale of casualties and damage in the affected areas, Jati said.
Photos released by the agency showed rescuers and police and military personnel taking residents to shelters, bridges cut while roads were covered by thick mud and debris.
Severe flooding also has been reported in Bima, a town in the neighbouring province of West Nusa Tenggara, forcing nearly 10,000 people to flee, Jati said.
In January, 40 people died in two landslides in West Java province.
Damaged roads and bridges, power blackouts and lack of heavy equipment on Saturday hampered rescuers after a strong earthquake left at least 46 people dead and hundreds injured on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island.
Operations were focused on about eight locations in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju, where people were still believed trapped following early Friday’s magnitude 6.2 quake, said Saidar Rahmanjaya, who heads the local search and rescue agency.
Cargo planes carrying food, tents, blankets and other supplies from Jakarta landed late Friday for distribution in temporary shelters. Still, thousands of people spent the night in the open fearing aftershocks and a possible tsunami.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Raditya Jati said rescuers had so far recovered the bodies of 37 victims in Mamuju and nine in neighbouring Majene district.
At least 415 houses in Majene were damaged and about 15,000 people were moved to shelters, Jati said.
Bodies retrieved by rescuers were sent to a police hospital for identification by relatives, said West Sulawesi police spokesperson Syamsu Ridwan.
He said more than 200 people were receiving treatment in the Bhayangkara police hospital and several others in Mamuju alone. Another 630 were injured in Majene.
Among those pulled alive was a young girl who was stuck in the wreckage of a house with her sister.
The girl was seen in video released by the disaster agency Friday crying for help. She was being treated in a hospital.
She identified herself as Angel and said that her sister, Catherine, who did not appear in the video, was beside her under the rubble and was still breathing.
The fate of Catherine and other family members was unclear.
Landslides, power outages
The quake set off landslides in three locations and blocked a main road connecting Mamuju to Majene. Power and phone lines were down in many areas.
Mamuju, the capital of West Sulawesi province with nearly 75,000 people, was strewn with debris from collapsed buildings. A governor office building was almost flattened by the quake and a shopping mall was reduced to a crumpled hulk. A large bridge collapsed and patients with drips laid on folding beds under tarpaulin tents outside one of the damaged hospitals.
Two hospitals in the city were damaged and others were overwhelmed.
Many survivors said that aid had not reached them yet due to damaged roads and disrupted communications.
Video from a TV station showed villagers in Majene, some carrying machetes, forcibly stopping vehicles carrying aid. They climbed onto a truck and threw boxes of instant noodles and other supplies at dozens of people who were scrambling to get them.
Two ships headed to the devastated areas from the nearby cities of Makassar and Balikpapan with rescuers and equipment, including excavators.
State-owned firm AirNav Indonesia, which oversees aircraft navigation, said the quake did not cause significant damage to the Mamuju airport runway or control tower.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Friday that he instructed his cabinet ministers and disaster and military officials to co-ordinate the response.
In a telegram sent by the Vatican on behalf of Pope Francis, the pontiff expressed “heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this natural disaster.”
The Pope was praying for “the repose of the deceased, the healing of the injured and the consolation of all who grieve.” Francis also offered encouragement to those continuing search and rescue effects, and he invoked “the divine blessings of strength and hope.”
International humanitarian missions including the Water Mission, Save the Children and the International Federation of Red Cross said in statements that they have joined in efforts to provide relief for people in need.
Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
In 2018, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Palu on Sulawesi island set off a tsunami and caused soil to collapse in a phenomenon called liquefaction. More than 4,000 people were killed, including many who were buried when whole neighbourhoods were swallowed in the falling ground.
A massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra island in western Indonesia in December 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.
A strong, shallow earthquake shook Indonesia’s Sulawesi island just after midnight Friday, toppling homes and buildings, triggering landslides and killing at least 42 people.
More than 600 people were injured during the magnitude 6.2 quake, which sent people fleeing their homes in the darkness. Authorities were still collecting information about the full scale of casualties and damage in the affected areas.
There were reports of many people trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.
In a video released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, a girl stuck in the wreckage of a house cried out for help and said she heard the sound of other family members also trapped. “Please help me, it hurts,” the girl told rescuers, who replied that they desperately wanted to help her.
The rescuers said an excavator was needed to save the girl and others trapped in collapsed buildings. Other images showed a severed bridge and damaged and flattened houses.
The earthquake damaged part of a hospital and patients were moved to an emergency tent outside. Rescuers struggled to extract seven patients and staff who were trapped under tons of rubble. After several hours, an excavator came to help and the rescuers eventually retrieved four survivors and three bodies.
Another video showed a father crying, asking for help to save his children buried under their toppled house. “They are trapped inside, please help,” he cried.
Thousands of displaced people were evacuated to temporary shelters.
The quake was centred 36 kilometres south of West Sulawesi province’s Mamuju district, at a depth of 18 kilometres, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The Indonesian disaster agency said the death toll climbed to 34 as rescuers in Mamuju retrieved 26 bodies trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.
The agency said in a statement that eight people were killed and 637 others were injured in Mamuju’s neighbouring district of Majene.
It said at least 300 houses and a health clinic were damaged and about 15,000 people were being housed in temporary shelters in the district. Power and phones were down in many areas.
‘We are racing against time’
West Sulawesi Administration Secretary Muhammad Idris told TVOne that the governor’s office building was among those that collapsed in Mamuju, the provincial capital, and many people there remain trapped.
Rescuer Saidar Rahmanjaya said a lack of heavy equipment was hampering the operation to clear the rubble from collapsed houses and buildings. He said his team was working to save 20 people trapped in eight buildings, including in the governor’s office, a hospital and hotels.
“We are racing against time to rescue them,” Rahmanjaya said.
Relatives wailed as they watched rescuers pull a body of a loved one from a damaged home in devastated Mamuju. It was placed in an orange body bag and taken away for burial.
“Oh my God, why did we have to go through this?” cried Rina, who uses one name. “I can’t save my dear sister … forgive me, sister, forgive us, God!”
President Joko Widodo said in a televised address that he had ordered his social minister and the chiefs of the military, police and disaster agency to carry out emergency response measures and search and rescue operations as quickly as possible.
“I, on behalf of the Government and all Indonesian people, would like to express my deep condolences to families of the victims,” Widodo said.
Beginilah situasi evakuasi di Mamuju dan Majene. Tim PMI bersiap bantu evakuasi merujuk warga terdampak <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/gempa?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#gempa</a> ke rumah sakit dan layanan kesehatan terdekat. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/PMISelaluBantu?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#PMISelaluBantu</a> <a href=”https://t.co/1mPns9jTap”>pic.twitter.com/1mPns9jTap</a>
The National Search and Rescue Agency’s chief, Bagus Puruhito, said rescuers from the cities of Palu, Makassar, Balikpapan and Jakarta were being deployed to help in Mamuju and Majene.
Two ships were heading to the affected areas from Makassar and Balikpapan carrying rescuers and search and rescue equipment, while a Hercules plane carrying supplies was on its way from Jakarta.
Puruhito is already leading more than 4,100 rescue personnel in a separate massive search operation for victims of the crash of a Sriwijaya Air jet into the Java Sea last Saturday.
Among the dead in Majene were three people killed when their homes were flattened by the quake while they were sleeping, said Sirajuddin, the district’s disaster agency chief.
Sirajuddin, who goes by one name, said although the inland earthquake did not have the potential to cause a tsunami, people along coastal areas ran to higher ground in fear one might occur.
Located on ‘Ring of Fire’
Landslides were set off in three locations and blocked a main road connecting Mamuju to the Majene district, said Raditya Jati, the disaster agency’s spokesperson.
On Thursday, a magnitude 5.9 undersea quake hit the same region, damaging several homes but causing no apparent casualties.
Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 260 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in Palu on Sulawesi island set off a tsunami and caused soil to collapse in a phenomenon called liquefaction. More than 4,000 people died, many of the victims buried when whole neighbourhoods were swallowed in the falling ground.
A powerful Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.
Indonesian authorities on Sunday located the black boxes of the Sriwijaya Air jet that crashed into the sea soon after taking off from the capital, Jakarta, as human body parts and pieces of the plane were retrieved.
The Boeing 737-500 with 62 passengers and crew was headed on a domestic flight to Pontianak in West Kalimantan on Saturday before it disappeared from radar screens four minutes after takeoff.
Indonesia National Transport Safety Committee (KNKT) chief Soerjanto Tjahjono said the locations of Flight SJ 182’s two black boxes had been identified.
“Hopefully, we can retrieve them soon,” said military chief Hadi Tjahjanto, without giving an estimated time frame.
The search will continue into the night, a search and rescue official said, but efforts will be limited to sonar scans by boats.
There were no clues yet as to what caused the crash — the first major air crash in Indonesia since 189 passengers and crew were killed in 2018 when a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max also plunged into the Java Sea soon after takeoff from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
Even before the latest crash, more people had died in air cashes in Indonesia than in any other country over the past decade, according to Aviation Safety Network’s database.
Body parts, clothing retrieved
Pieces of wreckage were brought to Jakarta’s port by rescuers, including the plane’s altimeter radar, emergency chute and a piece that was suspected to have come off the bottom part of the plane’s tail, KNKT official Nurcahyo Utomo said.
One twisted piece of metal was painted in Sriwijaya Air’s blue and red colours. Authorities said they came from a depth of 23 metres near a group of islands off the Jakarta coast.
Indonesian authorities said they had also retrieved body parts and clothing.
Police asked families to provide information such as dental records and DNA samples to help identify bodies.
The plane had 12 crew and 50 passengers on board, all Indonesians, including 10 children.
President Joko Widodo, speaking at the palace in Bogor, expressed “deep condolences” over the disaster and urged the public to pray that the missing people could be found.
Distraught relatives waited in Pontianak, about 740 kilometres from Jakarta, for news of their loved ones. At Jakarta’s main airport, a crisis centre was set up for families.
“We feel powerless, we can only wait and hope to get any information soon,” Irfansyah Riyanto, who had five relatives on the flight, told reporters.
A sudden descent
Tracking service Flightradar24 said the aircraft took off at 2:36 p.m. local time (0736 GMT) and climbed to reach 10,900 feet within four minutes. It then began a steep descent and stopped transmitting data 21 seconds later.
There were no immediate clues on what caused the sudden descent. Most air accidents are caused by myriad factors that can take months to establish, safety experts say.
A Transport Ministry spokesperson said air traffic control had asked the pilot why the plane was heading northwest instead of on its expected flight path seconds before it disappeared.
The pilots had decades of experience between them, with the flight captain reported to be a former air force pilot, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The Sriwijaya Air plane was a nearly 27-year-old Boeing 737-500, much older than Boeing’s problem-plagued 737 MAX model. Older 737 models are widely flown and do not have the stall-prevention system implicated in the MAX safety crisis.
“We are in contact with our airline customer and stand ready to support them during this difficult time,” Boeing said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers and their families.”
WATCH | Authorities investigating after Indonesian plane goes missing:
The plane, a Boeing 737-500 carrying 62 people, was on a 90-minute flight from Jakarta to the provincial capital on Borneo when it dropped off radar. The Indonesian navy says the co-ordinates have been found and given to all navy vessels in the area. 2:35
Founded in 2003, Jakarta-based Sriwijaya Air group flies largely within Indonesia’s sprawling archipelago. The budget airline has had a solid safety record, with no onboard casualties in four incidents recorded on the Aviation Safety Network database.
In 2007, the European Union banned all Indonesian airlines following a series of crashes and reports of deteriorating oversight and maintenance since deregulation in the late 1990s. The restrictions were fully lifted in 2018.
Indonesian rescuers pulled body parts, pieces of clothing and scraps of metal from the Java Sea early Sunday morning, a day after a Boeing 737-500 with 62 people onboard crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, officials said.
Officials were hopeful they were homing in on the wreckage of Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 after sonar equipment detected a signal from the aircraft.
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi told reporters that authorities have launched massive search efforts after identifying “the possible location of the crash site.”
“These pieces were found by the SAR team between Lancang Island and Laki Island,” National Search and Rescue Agency Bagus Puruhito said in a statement.
Indonesian military chief Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said teams on the Rigel navy ship equipped with a remote-operated vehicle had detected a signal from the aircraft, which fit the coordinates from the last contact made by the pilots before the plane went missing.
“We have immediately deployed our divers from navy’s elite unit to determine the finding to evacuate the victims,” Tjahjanto said.
More than 12 hours since the Boeing plane operated by the Indonesian airline lost contact, little is known about what caused the crash.
Fishermen in the area around Thousand Islands, a chain of islands north of Jakarta’s coast, reported hearing an explosion around 2:30 p.m. local time Saturday.
“We heard something explode, we thought it was a bomb or a tsunami since after that we saw the big splash from the water,” fisherman Solihin, who goes by one name, told The Associated Press by phone.
“It was raining heavily and the weather was so bad. So it is difficult to see around clearly. But we can see the splash and a big wave after the sounds. We were very shocked and directly saw the plane debris and the fuel around our boat.”
Sumadi said Flight SJ182 was delayed for an hour before it took off at 2:36 p.m. local time. It disappeared from radar four minutes later, after the pilot contacted air traffic control to ascend to an altitude of 8,839 metres, he said.
There were 62 people on board, including seven children and three babies.
Authorities established two crisis centres, one at airport and one at port. Families gathered to wait for news of loved ones.
On social media, people began circulating the flight manifest with photos and videos of those who were listed as passengers. One video shows a woman with her children waving goodbye while walking through the airport.
Plane was ‘airworthy’
Sriwijaya Air President Director Jefferson Irwin Jauwena said the plane, which is 26 years old and previously used by airlines in the United States, was airworthy. He told reporters Saturday that the plane had previously flown to Pontianak and Pangkal Pinang city on the same day.
“Maintenance report said everything went well and airworthy,” Jauwena told a news conference. He said the plane was delayed due to bad weather, not because of any damage.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation, with more than 260 million people, has been plagued by transportation accidents on land, sea and air because of overcrowding on ferries, aging infrastructure and poorly enforced safety standards.
In October 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet operated by Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. The plane involved in Saturday’s incident did not have the automated flight-control system that played a role in the Lion Air crash and another crash of a 737 MAX 8 jet in Ethiopia five months later, leading to the grounding of the MAX 8 for 20 months.
The Lion Air crash was Indonesia’s worst airline disaster since 1997, when 234 people were killed on a Garuda airlines flight near Medan on Sumatra island. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea, killing 162 people.
Sriwijaya Air has only has several minor incidents in the past, though a farmer was killed in 2008 when landing plane went off runway due to a hydraulic issue.
The United States banned Indonesian carriers from operating in the country in 2007, but reversed the decision in 2016, citing improvements in compliance with international aviation standards. The European Union has previously had similar bans, lifting them in June 2018.
A volcano in eastern Indonesia erupted Sunday, sending a column of ash as high as 4,000 metres into the sky and forcing thousands of people to leave their homes.
Nearly 2,800 people from at least 28 villages fled from the slopes of Mount Ili Lewotolok, which is located on Lembata island of East Nusa Tenggara province, as the volcano began erupting, said Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Raditya Jati. There were no reports of deaths or injuries from the eruption.
The Transportation Ministry said a flight warning had been issued after the eruption and a local airport had been closed as ash rained down on many areas of the island.
Mount Ili Lewotolok has been erupting off and on since October 2017. The Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center raised the volcano’s alert level to the second-highest level on Sunday after sensors picked up increasing activity.
The 5,423-metre volcano is one of three currently erupting in Indonesia along with Merapi on Java island and Sinabung on Sumatra island.
They are among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines around the Pacific Ocean.
After the eruption, the Disaster Mitigation Agency advised villagers and climbers to stay four kilometres from the crater and be aware of the peril of lava.
The death toll from flash floods and landslides in and around Indonesia’s capital Jakarta reached at least 21 on Thursday, with more heavy rain forecast, authorities said.
The deadliest floods in years displaced more than 30,000 people and caused chaos across parts of Southeast Asia’s biggest city with train lines blocked and power outages in some areas.
Social affairs ministry spokesman Joko Hariyanto said in a message to Reuters that the death toll had now reached 21.
Swathes of Jakarta and nearby towns were inundated after heavy rain fell on Dec. 31 and into the early hours of New Year’s Day.
Indonesia’s geophysics agency forecast rain accompanied by lightning and strong winds later on Thursday.
Authorities did not give a full breakdown of the causes of death for all of the victims, but earlier said four people had drowned, four died in landslides and four more were electrocuted, while three died of hypothermia.
Jakarta and its surroundings are home to more than 30 million people. More than 50 people died in one of the capital’s deadliest floods in 2007 and five years ago much of the centre of the city was inundated after canals overflowed.
City authorities have in the last few years sought to improve low-lying Jakarta’s vulnerability to flooding during the rainy season.
Thousands of people knelt in prayer in Indonesia’s Aceh province at ceremonies Thursday marking the 15th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami, one of modern history’s worst natural disasters.
The massive Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami was triggered by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake off Sumatra island. The giant wall of water killed about 230,000 people in a dozen countries as far away as East Africa. Indonesia’s Aceh province, which was closest to the earthquake, was hit first and hardest.
More than 170,000 people died in Indonesia alone, about three-quarters of the overall death toll.
“No words can describe our feelings when we tearfully saw thousands of corpses lying on this ground 15 years ago,” acting Aceh Gov. Nova Iriansyah said at a ceremony in Sigli, a town in Pidie district, “And now, we can see how people in Aceh were able to overcome suffering and rise again, thanks to assistance from all Indonesians and from people all over the world.”
Weeping survivors and others attended religious services and memorial ceremonies. Relatives of the dead and religious and community leaders presented flowers at mass graves of tsunami victims in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh.
Shops and offices were closed, boats were not allowed to sail and flags were being flown at half staff throughout Aceh on Thursday and Friday.
Thursday’s commemoration came four days after the anniversary of last year’s Sunda Strait tsunami, which followed the eruption and partial collapse of the Anak Krakatau volcano. That tsunami struck coastal regions of Banten on Indonesia’s main island of Java and parts of southern Sumatra island, leaving more than 400 people dead and 14,000 injured.
Disaster-prone Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands that is home to 260 million people, lies along the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
Commemorations across Asia
In Thailand, where more than 5,300 people were killed, including tourists visiting resort islands in the Andaman Sea, officials held a memorial ceremony and called for more awareness and preparedness for disasters.
“The government wants to lift safety standards… and build awareness across all sectors in preparing and protecting people against disasters,” Deputy Interior Minister, Nipon Bunyamanee, said at an opening ceremony. He said Dec. 26 had been designated national accident prevention day.
Officials later laid wreaths at a memorial center in Phang Nga province to pay tribute to King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s nephew, Bhumi Jensen, who was last seen jet-skiing off the coast when the tsunami hit.
An interfaith service for Muslim, Christian and Buddhist victims was also scheduled.
“It still haunts me. I can remember it all the time,” said Suwannee Maliwan, 28, who lost both parents and five other relatives in Phang Nga.
“Sometimes I dream that a wave is coming. I’m still scared,” she said. “Sometimes I want to move somewhere else, but it’s not possible because I was born here, my mom and dad passed away here.”
Survivors from Ban Nam Khem, the worst hit Thai village, will hold a candlelight vigil in the evening. At least 1,400 people were killed when waves struck the fishing village.
In India, where more than 10,000 people died in the tsunami, survivors also were to hold memorial ceremonies. More than 35,000 people died in Sri Lanka.
Six people died in civil unrest that gripped parts of Jakarta on Tuesday night after the election commission confirmed that President Joko Widodo won last month’s election, the governor of the Indonesian capital said.
Protests on Tuesday by supporters of Widodo’s challenger for the presidency, former general Prabowo Subianto, started peacefully but turned violent in the evening, forcing police to fire tear gas to disperse the crowd.
“As per 9 o’clock this morning, there were 200 people hurt being brought to five hospitals,” Gov. Anies Baswedan told broadcaster TVOne. “The number of people dead was six.”
He said hospitals were conducting post-mortems to determine the cause of the deaths.
Hundreds of protesters were still locked in a tense stand-off with police in central Jakarta on Wednesday after a night of violence. Television footage showed smoke billowing from behind dozens of protesters in streets of the Tanah Abang district, with some throwing firecrackers and tearing down public fences.
News agency Antara reported that a small number of protesters had attempted to storm a nearby police station and were using tables as barricades.
Several office buildings and embassies in downtown Jakarta were closed on Wednesday, as were train stations in the area.
A separate crowd in front of the election supervisory body threw rocks and firecrackers at police around dawn, and dozens of chanting protesters joined them during the morning.
Indonesia’s top security minister, meanwhile, said authorities will block access to social media in certain areas amid violent protests in the capital Jakarta by supporters of the losing presidential candidate.
Wiranto, who uses a single name, didn’t specify which areas would be subject to the restrictions in the televised news conference.
Hundreds of police in riot gear blocked the usually busy Sarinah intersection to hold back a crowd they said was expected to swell further in the afternoon.
“We will keep going with these protests until he (Widodo) falls,” said Afi Sikumbang, 58, a Prabowo supporter.
The General Election Commission (KPU) on Tuesday confirmed unofficial counts by private pollsters in the April 17 election, which gave Widodo a 55.5 per cent share of votes against 44.5 per cent for Prabowo.
Widodo won more than 85 million votes of a total of 154 million cast in the world’s third-largest democracy, but Prabowo told reporters he believed there had been widespread cheating.
The retired general pledged he would “continue to make legal efforts in line with the constitution to defend the mandate of the people,” with his legal director stating the campaign planned to contest the result in the Constitutional Court.
On Monday, an election supervisory agency dismissed claims of systematic cheating, citing a lack of evidence. Independent observers have said the poll was free and fair.
Widodo was congratulated for winning the election by former president and Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is part of the coalition backing Prabowo.
The National Mandate Party (PAN), which is also part of the Prabowo coalition, has also acknowledged the results of the election, which are being rejected by Prabowo’s Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra).
Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko told reporters on Wednesday he believed there was “a systematic effort by a certain group, outside of the terrorist group, that is riding on the situation to muddy the situation,” adding that authorities have seized two pistols from people involved in riots.
“We know who is behind this, it is a matter of time,” he said, adding that security was under control.
At least 20 arrested
Police spokesperson Dedi Prasetyo told Reuters on Wednesday that Indonesian police had arrested at least 20 people for provoking the riots and were checking on reports of casualties.
He stressed that security officers on the ground, which include military personnel, were not equipped with live bullets.
News website Tirto reported a man died of bullet wounds in Tanah Abang, quoting a doctor at a hospital near the site.
Indonesian authorities say 40,000 police and army personnel are on duty across Jakarta to maintain security.
Australia, the United States, and Britain issued travel advisories warning of an increased risk of violence across Indonesia and advising citizens to stay away from protests. Canadian travellers are advised to “exercise a high degree of caution” in the country because of “political and social tensions and the threat of terrorism throughout the country.”