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Fire at Indonesian Oil Depot Kills 17; Thousands Evacuated

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A large fire broke out at a fuel storage depot in Indonesia’s capital Friday, killing at least 17 people, injuring dozens of others and forcing the evacuation of thousands of nearby residents after spreading to their neighborhood, officials said.

The Plumpang fuel storage station, operated by state-run oil and gas company Pertamina, is near a densely populated area in the Tanah Merah neighborhood in North Jakarta. It supplies 25% of Indonesia’s fuel needs.

At least 260 firefighters and 52 fire engines were struggling to contain the blaze in the nearby neighborhood, fire officials said.

Video of the fire broadcast on television 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.

He said the fire would not disrupt the country’s fuel supply.

The acting Jakarta Governor Heru Budi Hartono, said about 600 displaced people were being taken to temporary shelters at several government offices and a sport stadium.

Satriadi Gunawan, who heads Jakarta’s fire and rescue department, said at least 17 people were dead, including two children, and 50 had been hospitalized, some with severe burns.

“The fire caused several explosions and quickly spread to residential houses,” Gunawan said.

Indonesia’s minister of State-Owned Enterprises, Erick Thohir, expressed condolences to the victims and their families and ordered Pertamina to thoroughly investigate the fire and focus on quickly assisting the community.

Source : ABC News