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272 election officials die in Indonesia

Sky News logo Sky News 28/4/2019 Philip Whiteside, international news reporter

a person standing in front of a building: People look at voting information at a polling station during elections in Bogor, West Java © Reuters People look at voting information at a polling station during elections in Bogor, West Java More than 270 election officials in Indonesia have died from exhaustion caused by long hours and excessive work.

About 80% of the country's 260 million voters took part in the poll 10 days ago - the first to combine the presidential, parliamentary and regional authority elections.

But the shear amount of work to count the votes by hand has taken its toll on workers.

As of Saturday night, 272 election officials had died and 1,878 others had fallen ill, Arief Priyo Susanto, spokesman of the General Elections Commission (KPU), said.

The primary reason given was illness related to overwork.

Some 800,000 polling stations were required to allow the country's diverse population to cast their ballots across its 18,000-island archipelago.

a man holding his hands up: This polling station in Bali was one of 800,000 across the country © Getty This polling station in Bali was one of 800,000 across the country

The logistical exercise of allowing such a huge number of people to vote across the 5,000km (3,000 miles) nation has been described as "Herculean".

Indonesia's health ministry issued a circular letter on 23 April urging health facilities to provide urgent care for sick election employees.

Meanwhile, the finance ministry has said it is working on compensation for families of those who have died.

The deputy chairman of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto's campaign has criticised the election authority.

Ahmad Muzani said: "The KPU is not prudent in managing the workload of staff."

Joko Widodo, Iriana Joko Widodo posing for the camera: Indonesian President Joko Widodo, pictured here with his wife Iriana, is thought to have won © Getty Indonesian President Joko Widodo, pictured here with his wife Iriana, is thought to have won

Independent vote counters said early signs showed incumbent President Joko Widodo was the winner.

But Mr Subianto has alleged widespread cheating and his campaign has claimed some officials punched ballots in favour of Mr Widodo.

The winner of the presidential and parliamentary elections will be announced on 22 May.

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