Four die while queuing at child healer clinic

Other News Materials 10 February 2009 11:45 (UTC +04:00)

Police in East Java province have closed a clinic run by a nine-year-old child believed to possess healing powers after four people died while queuing for treatment, an officer said Tuesday.

Two patients died on Monday while lining up with thousands of others at the house of Muhammad Ponari, who has been called "child witch doctor" by locals, in Jombang district, said police officer Muhammad Indra, dpa reported.

Two other patients died last week in a stampede, he said.

"They queued for many hours because there were too many patients. Most of the victims had breathing problems," he said.

Ponari caused a stir among locals after he found a stone believed to have healing powers after he was struck by a lightning last month, Indra said.

Since then thousands of people with various ailments have thronged to his house every day to seek cures for various ailments.

Ponari treated his patients by dipping the stone in water and having them drink the liquid.

It was not clear if anyone has been cured.

Modern medical services are too costly for million of Indonesians, forcing them to seek treatment from traditional healers.