Indonesian killed by falling coffin at mother's funeral

MAKASSAR • An Indonesian was killed when his mother's coffin fell from a funeral tower and crushed him during a service on the island of Sulawesi, police said yesterday.

Mr Samen Kondorura, 40, died last Friday after pallbearers lost their footing while carrying the coffin up a bamboo ladder in the Parinding valley in North Toraja district, local police said.

The coffin fell as the group hoisted it onto a lakkian, an ornately carved tower where the corpse is placed before elaborate traditional funeral rites.

"As the mother's coffin was being raised to the lakkian, suddenly the ladder shifted and collapsed, the coffin fell and hit the victim," chief commissioner Julianto Sirait of the Tana Toraja resort police told Agence France-Presse.

Video footage from the scene, which has gone viral online, shows the ladder slipping just as the coffin enters the tower, sending the men tumbling several metres to the ground, where the victim is struck by the coffin.

Horrified onlookers rushed to the men's aid but Mr Kondorura died later in hospital.

Mr Sirait said the accident happened because the ladder was not properly reinforced, but the family has declined to press charges. The body of Mr Kondorura is now resting alongside his mother, he added.

When ethnic Torajans die, local residents hold elaborate funerals that can last for days and involve music, dance and the sacrifice of water buffalo.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2018, with the headline 'Indonesian killed by falling coffin at mother's funeral'. Print Edition | Subscribe