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INDONESIA: At least 18 dead, 1,300 homeless in Jakarta storage depot fire

RESIDENTS searched through the remains of their charred homes Saturday as Indonesian state energy firm Pertamina apologised for a fire at a Jakarta fuel storage depot it said killed at least 18 people, including two children.

Dozens were also injured and police said three people were still missing after Friday night’s blaze at Pertamina’s Plumpang depot in north Jakarta. Officials called on Saturday for an audit of “all fuel facilities and infrastructures” in Indonesia.

Pertamina, which controls the majority of Indonesia’s fuel and energy distribution, publicly apologised for the fire.

“The management and I would like to convey our deepest apology for this incident. None of us expected this incident to happen,” Nicke Widyawati, Pertamina’s director, told a televised news conference.

Thirty-five people were still being treated, with many suffering severe burns, while more than 1,300 people living in residential areas near the depot had to be evacuated. The death toll had risen by one during the day.

“What I saw was smoke travelling from the left to the right, about 10 minutes later there was an explosion and the fire spread catching the houses,” witness Selamet, who like many Indonesians only has one name, told AFP.

Vice President Ma’ruf Amin visited the scene on Saturday and suggested the depot should be moved away from residential neighbourhoods.

“I hope this depot can be relocated… so it will be safer and this area will be rearranged so it meets the requirements of a proper neighbourhood in the capital,” he told reporters.

National Police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo said the fire happened while fuel that had just arrived from another refinery was being reloaded.

“There was a technical disruption that caused excessive pressure and, after that, the fire happened. The source of the fire is currently being investigated,” he said.

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