17 dead in Indonesia fuel depot fire
A massive fire tore through a fuel storage depot in Indonesia’s capital on Friday, killing at least 17 people, injuring dozens and displacing thousands of nearby residents after it spread to their neighborhoods, officials said. Forced to evacuate, officials said.
The Plumpang fuel storage station, operated by state oil and gas company Pertamina, is close to a densely populated area in the Tanah Merah neighborhood of North Jakarta. It supplies 25% of Indonesia’s fuel needs.
Fire officials said that at least 260 firefighters and 52 fire engines are battling to control the fire in the nearby area.
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Video of the fire broadcast on television showed hundreds of people in the community running in panic as thick plumes of black smoke and orange flames filled the sky and firefighters battled the blaze.
Pertamina area manager Eko Kristiawan said preliminary investigations revealed that the fire started due to a burst pipeline during heavy rains.
He said that the fire will not disrupt the country’s fuel supply.
Jakarta Acting Governor Heru Budi Hartono said about 600 displaced people were being taken to temporary shelters at several government offices and a sports stadium.
At least 17 people, including two children, have died, and 50 have been hospitalized, some with severe burns, said Satriadi Gunawan, head of Jakarta’s fire and rescue department.
“The fire caused several explosions and quickly spread to residential houses,” Gunawan said.
Indonesia’s Minister of State-Owned Industries, Eric Thohir, expressed his condolences to the victims and their families and ordered Pertamina to focus on investigating the fire thoroughly and assisting the community quickly.
“There should be an operational evaluation in the future. I will continue to monitor this case,” Thohir said in a video statement.
Friday’s fire was the second major fire at the Plumpang fuel depot. In 2014, at least 40 nearby houses caught fire, but there were no casualties.
Fahmi Radhi, an energy analyst from Gajah Mada University, urged Pertamina and the government to immediately move the depot away from nearby community settlements.
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“Pertamina has been negligent by not using international standard safety systems,” he said in an interview with KOMPAS TV. He said that no effort was made to implement such a system after the 2014 fire and regular inspections should be done to avoid future fires.
“The board of directors of Pertamina should be immediately sacked and held responsible for this deadly fire,” Radhi said.
In 2018, an oil spill caused a fire in the port city of Balikpapan that killed five people and sickened hundreds. Officials said it came from a broken pipe that Pertamina was using to transfer crude oil.
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In March 2021, a fire at the Cilacap gasoline storage facility at the largest oil refinery on the main island of Java displaced 80 nearby residents and injured at least 20 people. Cilacap is one of six Pertamina refineries with a processing capacity of 270,000 barrels per day. Eight months later, more than 900 people were evacuated after a fire broke out at the Pertamina Balongan refinery in West Java province.