Hundreds evacuated as Pertamina fire kills at least 17 in Jakarta | News

The probe continues to uncover the cause of the fire, but the energy company says a pipe leak was detected before the fire.

Residents searched the remains of their charred homes after a fire at a fuel storage depot in Jakarta killed at least 17 people, including two children.

The fire, which broke out at around 8:00 p.m. (0100 GMT) on Friday from a fuel line at Pertamina’s Plumpang fuel storage depot in the capital Jakarta, quickly spread to nearby homes and caused havoc. panic in the densely populated area.

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

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

Three people were still missing after the blaze, with Indonesian officials calling for an audit of “all fuel facilities and infrastructure” in the country the next day.

An aerial view of a residential area, after a fire broke out at a fuel storage station operated by Indonesia's state-owned energy company Pertamina
An aerial view of a residential area, after a fire broke out at a fuel storage station operated by Indonesia’s state-owned energy company Pertamina, in Jakarta [Antara Foto/Muhammad Adimadja/via Reuters]

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

He suggested that the depot be moved away from residential areas.

“I hope that this depot can be relocated…so that it is safer and that this area is redeveloped so that it meets the requirements of a good neighborhood in the capital,” he told reporters. journalists.

Footage released Friday night showed people screaming and fleeing through narrow roads with a blaze lighting up the sky behind them.

A ball of fire could be seen across the North Jakarta skyline with sirens wailing in the background.

Abdul Syukur, who also lives nearby, told Kompas TV that residents said they could smell fuel about 30 minutes before the fire.

“The smell was so strong that there were people throwing up and some almost passed out,” he said.

Another witness, Swastono Aji, told AFP news agency that the smell “was so strong that we could barely breathe”.

“We were leaving this area when we suddenly heard a very loud explosion.”

Two men look at burned cars in Plumpang, north Jakarta, on March 4, 2023, after a fire broke out at a nearby state-run fuel storage depot run by energy company Pertamina.  (Photo by ADITYA AJI / AFP)
Two men watch burnt out cars in Plumpang [Aditya Aji / AFP]


“It was like a bomb, like a mini apocalypse. It was unimaginable,” witness Jamilul Asror, 45, told AFP, calling on authorities to relocate residents further away.

National Police Chief Listyo Sigit, speaking on the site, said at least three people were still missing.

Senior officials have called for an investigation into the cause of the fire and an audit of the country’s energy facilities after several recent fires.

“After several fires… it is clear that we need to audit all fuel facilities and infrastructure, especially tanks and refineries,” Sugeng Suparwoto, head of the parliamentary energy committee, told the channel on Saturday. local television station Metro TV.

In 2021, a massive fire broke out at the Balongan refinery in West Java, also owned by Pertamina.

That same depot saw fires in 2009 and again in 2014 – when flames spread to 40 nearby homes. No casualties were reported in any of these cases.

The morning after the blaze, houses stacked against barbed wire fences at the Pertamina facility were gutted and blackened, along with rows of cars set ablaze.

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