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Indonesia fuel depot fire kills 19; 3 still missing


Nepalnews
2023 Mar 05, 13:28, JAKARTA, Indonesia
Residents walk though the rubble at a neighborhood affected by a fuel depot fire in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, March 4, 2023. (AP Photo)

Indonesian rescuers and firefighters on Sunday searched for three people who were still missing after a large fire spread from a fuel storage depot in the capital and killed at least 19 people.

The Plumpang fuel storage station, operated by state-run oil and gas company Pertamina, is near a densely populated area in the Tanah Merah neighborhood in North Jakarta. It supplies 25% of Indonesia’s fuel needs.

At least 260 firefighters and 52 fire engines extinguished the blaze just before midnight on Friday after it tore through the neighborhood for more than two hours, fire officials said.

Footage showed hundreds of people running in panic as thick plumes of black smoke and orange flames filled the sky.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited the fire-hit areas on Sunday morning to reassure people that the government would help those in need.

Widodo said he has ordered the minister of state-owned enterprises and the Jakarta governor to immediately find a way to relocate residents away from the fuel storage area or to move the depot away from the neighborhood.

National police chief Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo said a preliminary investigation showed the fire was caused by a technical problem involving excess pressure as the depot received fuel from Pertamina’s Balongan Refinery in West Java province.

A pet macaque stands on its owner's motorbike as people inspect the damage to a neighborhood affected by a fuel depot fire in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, March 4, 2023. (AP Photo)
A pet macaque stands on its owner's motorbike as people inspect the damage to a neighborhood affected by a fuel depot fire in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, March 4, 2023. (AP Photo)

He didn’t elaborate as investigators from Pertamina and the police were still working to confirm the cause of the fire, including by questioning dozens of witnesses and examining video recordings from surveillance cameras.

Residents living near the depot said they smelled a strong odor of gasoline, causing some people to vomit, after which thunder rumbled twice, followed by a huge explosion.

Sri Haryati, a mother of three, said the fire began to spread about 20 minutes later, causing panic.

Rescuers were still searching for three people who were reported missing. About 35 people were receiving treatment in five hospitals, some of them in critical condition.

Listyo said more than 1,300 people were displaced and taking shelter in 10 government offices, a Red Cross command post and a sport stadium.

Pertamina’s head Nicke Widyawati apologized and said the company would provide help to the community and cooperate in the investigation.

People inspect the damage at their neighborhood following a fuel depot fire in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, March 4, 2023. (AP Photo)
People inspect the damage at their neighborhood following a fuel depot fire in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, March 4, 2023. (AP Photo)

On Saturday, grieving relatives gathered at a police hospital’s morgue in eastern Jakarta to try to identify their loved ones. Officials said the victims were burned beyond recognition and could only be identified through DNA and dental records.

In 2014, a fire at the same fuel depot engulfed at least 40 houses, but no casualties were reported.

Indonesia’s State Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir told reporters that the government will remap safe zones for residential areas away from vital objects.

He said the incident showed the Plumpang area is not safe for the community, and the government is planning to move the fuel storage depot to Tanjung Priok port in northern Jakarta.

READ ALSO:

Indonesia fuel depot fire kills 19 3 still missing Rescuers Firefighters fuel storage depot
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