This year’s mudik season has already claimed 345 lives, a 140 percent increase from the same period last year, an official said on Tuesday.
Bambang Tjahyono, the Transportation Ministry official heading the department monitoring the annual migration, told news portal Detik.com that between Wednesday of last week and Monday 345 people had died in more than 2,200 accidents.
Over the same period last year, 144 casualties and 743 accidents were recorded.
Another 564 people suffered from heavy injuries over the same six-day period this year, while 1,385 experienced minor injuries.
Bambang blamed the accidents largely on “reckless driving,” but he also attributed the statistical increase to an improved monitoring system.
A National Police spokesman, Insp. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam, estimated that some 15 million Indonesians had traveled to celebrate Idul Fitri in their hometowns this year.
“That’s about a 4.14 percent increase from the 14 million people last year,” he said.
In Surabaya, the tradition of setting off firecrackers to celebrate Idul Fitri continued to take its toll despite being officially banned. Five people have already been treated at the emergency room at Dr. Soetomo Hospital for firecracker-related injuries.
Urip Murtedjo, head of the emergency room, said those five brought the total number of firecracker-related hospitalizations to 13 in August, a huge increase from the five admitted during the same period last year.
Some of those admitted lost fingers in the blasts, he said. The injured, he added, included two men older than 50.
“The lack of awareness and the limited information on the dangers of firecrackers are among the reasons people to continue play with them,” he said.
Urip urged people not to play with firecrackers, which he said not only endangered the users but also annoyed others. “Rather than buy firecrackers, it would be better to use the money for more important needs,” he said.
The doctor added that seven other people injured in traffic accidents had been treated at the hospital’s emergency room.
Meanwhile, lines of motorcycles stretching at least 500 meters formed on Wednesday at the ticket booths for the Suramadu Bridge, which connects Surabaya and Madura.
“Every year it gets packed after the Ied prayer as people go to visit their families in Madura,” said Suhariono, who heads the bridge’s toll management company.
To deal with the influx of motorcycles using the bridge, two ticket booths in the car lane have been converted to serve motorcyclists, he said.
He said that between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m., the number of motorcycles crossing the bridge to Madura reached 14,000.
Additional reporting by Antara.