A domesticated monkey stands on its owner’s motorbike as people inspect the damage to a neighborhood caused by a fuel depot fire, in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana )

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian rescuers and firefighters searched Saturday for possible victims under the rubble of burned homes and buildings after a massive fire at a fuel depot in the capital Jakarta killed at least 15 people. and 16 missing.

The Plumpang fuel storage station, operated by the state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina, is near a densely populated area in the Tanah Merah district of North Jakarta. It covers 25% of the country’s energy needs.

At least 260 firefighters, with 52 trucks, managed to douse the flames just before midnight Friday after the blaze raged through the neighborhood for more than two hours, department officials said.

Video of the blaze shown on television Friday night showed hundreds of residents running in panic as thick clouds of black smoke and orange flames filled the sky and firefighters tried to put out the fire. ‘fire.

According to a preliminary investigation, the fire was caused by the bursting of a pipeline during heavy rain, likely caused by lightning, said Eko Kristiawan, Pertamina’s regional manager for West Java.

Those who lived near the depot said they noticed a strong smell of gasoline, which made some people vomit, followed by two claps of thunder, followed by a big explosion around 8:00 p.m.

Data from the Indonesian Red Cross command center said the death toll had risen from 17 to 15, after authorities discovered that some victims had been double counted. Rescuers were still looking for 16 people missing or separated from their families in the chaos. Some 49 injured were being treated in five hospitals, some with a critical prognosis.

According to the acting governor of Jakarta, Heru Budi Hartono, some 600 displaced people have been relocated to temporary shelters set up in government offices, a Red Cross command post and a stadium.

Pertamina chairman Nicke Widyawati apologized for the incident and said the company would help affected communities and work with authorities to investigate the cause of the fire.

“We will conduct a thorough assessment and internal reflection to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” Widyawati said in a statement, adding that the company was guaranteeing fuel supplies.

Friday’s fire was the second major fire at the Plumpang fuel depot. In 2014, flames tore through at least 40 nearby homes, but there were no casualties.

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