At least 23 people were crushed to death Monday when residents of an eastern Indonesia town surged forward while waiting for 40,000 rupiah (US$4.25) handouts from a rich family in an annual tradition, officials said. The handouts were part of charity events marking the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan in the town of Pasuran, some 800 kilometers (nearly 500 miles) east of the capital, said local police chief Harry Sitompul.
Television footage showed women screaming as they were pushed into a fence by the crowd outside a home in Pasuran. At 23 people were killed and at least 8 others were in critical condition, Sitompul said.
Charity events are common during Ramadan, when most of Indonesia's 235 million people fast during daylight hours. However, crowd control is problematic and deaths have occurred at similar events in the past.
"There was no coordination with police during the handout," said mayor Aminurohman, who like many Indonesians goes by a single name.