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Indonesia checks all oil depots after fire tragedy

JAKARTA: Residents searched the remains of their charred homes on Saturday after a fire at a fuel depot killed at least 17 people, including two children.

After the fire on Friday evening in the Plumpang depot of the state-owned energy company Pertamina in northern Jakarta, three people were still missing.

The tragedy has prompted Indonesian officials to call for an audit of “all fuel facilities and infrastructure” in the country.

Sixty people were injured, many severely burned, while hundreds more living in residential areas near the depot had to be evacuated.

“It started with a very strong smell. It was so strong we could hardly breathe,” witness Swastono Aji told AFP.

“Then we were just leaving that area when we suddenly heard a very loud explosion.”

Vice President Ma’ruf Amin visited the scene on Saturday and confirmed that 17 people were killed and 60 others injured.

He suggested moving the depot out of the residential areas.

“I hope that this depot can be relocated…to make it safer and to rearrange this area to meet the requirements of a decent neighborhood in the capital,” he told reporters.

The chief of the national police, Listyo Sigit, also said at the scene that at least three people were still missing.

Senior officials have called for an investigation into the cause of the fires and an audit of the country’s power plants following several recent fires.

“Having had several fires … it is clear that we need to examine all tank facilities and infrastructure, especially tanks and refineries,” Sugeng Suparwoto, head of the parliament’s energy commission, told local broadcaster Metro TV.

In 2021, a massive fire broke out at the Balongan refinery in West Java, also owned by Pertamina and one of the largest of its kind in Indonesia.

Fires broke out in the same depot in 2009 and again in 2014 – when the flames spread to 40 houses nearby. In none of these cases were casualties reported.

“I have instructed Pertamina to investigate this case immediately and we are now focused on helping the people. There needs to be an operational assessment going forward,” State-owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir said in an Instagram post late Friday.

The morning after the fire, houses piled up against the Pertamina compound’s barbed wire fences were gutted and blackened, and rows of cars were burned out.

A child stood amidst the rubble and surveyed the burned scene while rescue workers evacuated one of the dead in a body bag.

“It was like a bomb, it was like a mini apocalypse. It was unimaginable,” said witness Jamilul Asror, 45, urging authorities to relocate residents further afield.

“Pertamina is ruthless. This depot is way too close.”

‘Completely destroyed’

Video aired Friday night showed people fleeing screaming and through narrow streets while an inferno lit up the sky behind them.

A fireball was seen over the North Jakarta skyline with sirens wailing in the background.

The military and Pertamina said they are investigating the cause of the tragedy.

Jakarta Fire and Rescue Chief Satriadi Gunawan said firefighters initially received reports that a pipe had burst at the depot.

Pertamina boss Nicke Widyawati said the country’s fuel supplies had not been disrupted.

Acting Jakarta Governor Heru Budi Hartono said the government will pay for treatment for the injured, many of whom remained hospitalized on Saturday.

The North Jakarta Red Cross said 342 people had been evacuated and four tents had been set up for the displaced.

The mother of one Linda said she lost everything after fleeing with only the clothes on her back and her family.

“I can’t go back home because it’s completely destroyed,” she told Metro TV.

“I don’t even know what condition it is in and I don’t know where to go now.”

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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