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Death Toll Reaches 17 in Indonesia Fuel Depot Fire, More than a Dozen Missing

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Rescuers and firefighters searched under the rubble of charred homes and buildings on Saturday in Jakarta, as residents searched for the charred rubble of their homes after a major fire broke out from a fuel storage depot in the capital and killed at least 17 people, including two children. .

The Lumbang fuel storage terminal, operated by state oil and gas company Pertamina, is located near a densely populated area in North Jakarta’s Tanah Merah district. Provides 25% of Indonesia’s fuel needs.

Fire officials said at least 260 firefighters and 52 fire trucks put out the flames shortly before midnight Friday after it had ravaged the neighborhood for more than two hours.

Footage showed hundreds of people running in panic as thick columns of black smoke and orange flames rose into the sky.

Eko Kristiawan, director of the Pertamina district in the western part of Java, said that the initial investigation indicates that the fire started when a pipeline broke during heavy rain, possibly caused by a lightning strike.

Residents living near the depot said they smelled a strong smell of gasoline, causing some people to vomit, then thunder boomed twice, followed by a massive explosion around 8 p.m.

Sri Hariyati, a mother of three, said the fire started spreading after about 20 minutes, causing panic.

“I was crying and immediately took our precious documents and ran with my husband and children,” said Hariyati, adding that she heard smaller explosions reverberating throughout the neighborhood as orange flames leapt from the warehouse.

Rescuers are searching for 17 people who were reported missing or separated from their families amid the chaos. About 49 people are receiving treatment in five hospitals, some of them in critical condition.

National Police Chief Listeo Sigit Prabowo said more than 1,300 people were displaced and sheltered in 10 government offices, a Red Cross command center and a sports stadium.

He said investigators are still working to find out the cause of the fire and to interview dozens of witnesses.

Pertamina president Nicke Widyawati apologized and said the company would provide assistance to the community and cooperate in the investigation.

“We will conduct a comprehensive assessment and reflection internally to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” Wadiawati said in a statement, adding that the company had ensured the safe supply of fuel oil.

On Saturday, grieving relatives gathered at the morgue of a police hospital in East Jakarta, trying to identify their loved ones. Officials said the victims suffered unrecognizable burns and could only be identified through DNA and dental records.

In 2014, a fire in the same fuel depot destroyed at least 40 homes, but no injuries were reported.

Indonesia’s Minister for State-Owned Enterprises, Eric Thuhir, told reporters that the government will redraw the map of safe zones for residential areas away from vital sites.

He said the accident showed that the Blumbang area is not safe for the community, and the government plans to move the fuel storage depot to Tanjung Priok port in North Jakarta.

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