Residents try to find victims from their burned houses at a residential area located near the site of the fire of the fuel depot owned by the state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina, in Plumpang, Jakarta. AFP
Gulf Today Report
At least 17 people have been killed and dozens injured in a massive blaze at a state-run fuel storage depot in Indonesia's capital.
The inferno burned several houses, caused people to flee in panic and forced the evacuation of residential areas near the depot run by energy firm Pertamina in north Jakarta, officials said.
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The Jakarta fire and rescue department said 17 people were killed in Friday's blaze, which injured at least 50 more.
Many of those killed and injured suffered severe burns after the fire broke out, department chief Satriadi Gunawan told the media.
Police officers guard an affected residential area in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Saturday. Reuters
Video of the fire broadcast on television late Friday showed hundreds of people in the community running in panic while thick plumes of black smoke and orange flames filled the sky and firefighters battled the blaze.
A preliminary investigation showed the fire broke out when a pipeline ruptured during heavy rain, possibly from a lightning strike, said Eko Kristiawan, Pertamina’s area manager for the western part of Java.
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 around 8pm.
The blaze was put out several hours after it started, army chief of staff Dudung Abdurachman told reporters.
Rescuers recover the body of a victim in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Saturday. AP
"The fire is already extinguished," he said.
Gunawan said firefighters were working on "cooling" the fire area after bringing it under control.
The cause of the fire, which started after 8 pm local time (1300 GMT), was not clear.
The military chief Abdurachman and Pertamina said they were investigating the cause.
"Pertamina is focused on handling the fire and evacuating workers and residents nearby to a safer location," the company said in a statement.
A man attends a phone call outside a burnt house in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Saturday. Reuters
The oil and gas firm's chief executive Nicke Widyawati said it would "conduct a full internal evaluation... to prevent the reoccurrence of a similar event."
She said the country's fuel supply had not been disrupted, remaining secure through backup supplies from the nearest available terminals.
The cause of the fire was still being investigated, he said at a news conference. Pertamina officials said there was lightning and heavy rain at the time the fire broke out. About 15 people were slightly injured and authorities said they were checking on the whereabouts of three others.
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