18 people are killed in a fire at a fuel depot in Indonesia; After a massive fire that broke out from a fuel storage depot in the capital and killed at least 18 people, more than a dozen missing Indonesian rescuers and firefighters searched under the rubble of charred homes and buildings on Saturday for more than a dozen of them.
The state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina runs the Plumpang fuel storage station in the Tanah Merah neighborhood of North Jakarta, which is close to a densely populated area. 25% of Indonesia’s fuel requirements come from it.
According to fire officials, the blaze consumed the neighborhood for more than two hours and was finally put out by at least 260 firefighters and 52 fire engines just before midnight on Friday.
As thick clouds of black smoke and orange flames filled the sky, footage captured hundreds of people fleeing in fear.
According to Eko Kristiawan, Pertamina’s area manager for the western part of Java, a preliminary investigation revealed that the fire started when a pipeline burst during heavy rain, possibly caused by a lightning strike.
Sri Haryati, a mother of three, said the fire started to spread about 20 minutes later, causing panic. Residents living near the depot said they smelled a strong gasoline odor, which made some people vomit. Around 8 p.m., thunder rumbled twice, and then there was a huge explosion.
Haryati stated, “I was crying and immediately grabbed our valuable documents and ran with my husband and children,” adding that she heard smaller blasts that reverberated throughout the neighborhood as orange flames jumped from the depot.
In the midst of the chaos, 16 people had been reported missing or had been cut off from their families. Five hospitals were treating approximately 42 patients, some of whom were in critical condition.
According to the chief of the National Police, Listyo Sigit Prabowo, more than 1,300 people were forced from their homes and are staying in ten government offices, a Red Cross command post, and a sports stadium.
He stated that dozens of witnesses were being questioned and the cause of the fire was still being investigated.
Nicke Widyawati, the CEO of Pertamina, expressed regret and promised to assist the community and cooperate with the investigation.
Widyawati said in a statement, “We will carry out a thorough evaluation and reflection internally to prevent similar incidents from occurring again,” and the company ensured the safe supply of fuel oil.
To try to identify their loved ones, grieving relatives gathered at the morgue of a police hospital in eastern Jakarta on Saturday. The victims, according to officials, could only be identified through DNA and dental records because their faces were so badly burned.
At least 40 homes were destroyed by a fire at the same fuel depot in 2014, but no injuries were reported.
Erick Thohir, the Minister of State-Owned Enterprises in Indonesia, disclosed to reporters that the government would remap safe zones for residential areas that are located far from essential objects.
He stated that the incident demonstrated the community’s lack of safety in the Plumpang area, and that the government intends to relocate the fuel storage depot to the Tanjung Priok port in northern Jakarta.
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