Fire at Indonesian oil depot kills 17 and evacuates thousands

JAKARTA (Reuters) – A major fire broke out at a fuel storage depot in the Indonesian capital on Friday, killing at least 17 people, injuring dozens more and forcing the evacuation of thousands of nearby residents after spread to their neighborhood, officials said.
The Plumpang fuel storage station, operated by a state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina, is near a densely populated area in the Tanah Merah district of North Jakarta. It provides 25% of Indonesia’s fuel needs.
At least 260 firefighters and 52 fire trucks were battling to contain the blaze in the nearby neighborhood, firefighters said.
Video of the blaze shown 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.
A preliminary investigation showed that the fire started when a pipeline ruptured in heavy rain, possibly due to a lightning strike, said Eko Kristiawan, regional manager of Pertamina.
He said the fire would not disrupt the country’s fuel supply.
Satriadi Gunawanwho heads the Jakarta Fire and Rescue Service, said people living in the residential area were still being evacuated and taken to a nearby town hall and a mosque.
“The fire caused several explosions and quickly spread to residential homes,” Gunawan said.
He said at least 17 people died, including two children, and 50 were hospitalized, some with severe burns.
Indonesian Minister of Public Enterprises, Erick Thohirexpressed condolences to the victims and their families and ordered Pertamina to thoroughly investigate the fire and focus on prompt assistance to the community.
“There must be an operational assessment in the future. I will continue to follow this case,” Thohir said in a video statement.
Friday’s fire was the second major fire at the Plumpang fuel depot. In 2014, a fire engulfed at least 40 nearby homes, but no casualties were reported.
Fahmi Radhian energy analyst, urged Pertamina and the government to immediately move the depot away from nearby community settlements.
“Pertamina was negligent in not using international standard security systems,” he said in an interview with KOMPAS TV. He said that since the fire in 2014, no effort had been made to put such a system in place and that regular inspections should be carried out to prevent future fires.
“Pertamina’s board should be held accountable for this deadly fire by being immediately removed from office,” Radhi said.
An oil spill in 2018 caused a fire that killed five people and sickened hundreds in the port town of Balikpapan. Authorities said it came from a broken pipe that Pertamina was using to transfer crude oil.
In March 2021, a fire at the Cilacap gasoline storage facility at the largest oil refinery on the main island of Java caused the evacuation of 80 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 have been evacuated after a fire broke out at the Pertamina Balongan refinery in West Java province.


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