Idul Fitri Exodus Leaves over 300 Dead

JAKARTA ~ More than 300 people were killed in road accidents across the country during the mass exodus to celebrate Idul Fitri, police said.

“The latest number of road accidents nationwide is 893, in which 312 people were killed,” national police spokesman I Ketut Untung Yoga Ana said on Wednesday.

“Most of those killed were riding motorcycles,” he said.

More than 27 million people left major cities and towns across the archipelago to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Yoga Ana said that the number of people killed was expected to increase as millions of people returned to big cities this week after the holidays.

Transport Ministry figures show that the number of travellers driving motorcycles home for Eid is increasing every year.

Data shows that most of the people killed on roads last year were riding motorcycles. At least 548 died in the exodus.

Police said they had sent 120,000 officers to monitor major travel routes throughout the country.

The number of passengers expected to head home is nearly nine percent higher than last year’s figure of 25.63 million, according to the ministry.

It said that 16.25 million people will use planes, trains and ferries, while 11 million will travel home by car and motorcycle.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen people were injured in a stampede in Jakarta on Monday as the city’s governor handed out cash and food to the poor to mark Idul Fitri.

Two people were hospitalised after being crushed in the rush as Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo handed out the parcels at city hall, local government official Muhayat said.

“The two people were trampled on but not seriously injured and have been taken to the local government hospital,” he said, adding that another 11 people had lost consciousness and were treated at the scene.

Thousands of mostly women and children lined up for the distribution of staple foods and Rp40,000 (US$4) in cash to mark the holiday.

The cash handout is roughly equivalent to the minimum daily wage for a worker in Jakarta.

Thousands also lined up at the presidential palace to greet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, part of a tradition that sees people across the country ask for forgiveness from others for offences and slights.

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