Tuesday 24 April 2018

Dozens killed after huge explosion sparks blaze in Indonesian fireworks factory

Residents watch as thick black smoke billows from the site of the explosion in Tangerang (AP)
Residents watch as thick black smoke billows from the site of the explosion in Tangerang (AP)
Police officers and rescuers inspect the site of the explosion in Tangerang (AP)
The fire began at a factory in a warehouse complex in Tangerang

An explosion and blaze at a fireworks factory near the Indonesian capital has killed at least 47 people, most of them female workers, and injured dozens more, police said.

Witnesses said a huge explosion was heard from the factory and then smaller blasts echoed across the neighbourhood as orange flames jumped from the building and a column of black smoke billowed from it.

Hary Kurniawan, chief of police in the Jakarta satellite city of Tangerang, said all the bodies recovered so far were found in the remains of the factory and a search of the building is continuing.

The death toll could rise as many of those who escaped suffered extensive burns, said Nico Afinta, general crimes director at Jakarta police. He said the factory had more than 100 employees.

"The fire began with a strong explosion like a bomb," Benny, a Tangerang resident who goes by one name, told MetroTV.

He said he saw police and residents smash through a factory wall to help workers out. Some of the victims were burning as they ran out, he said.

A worker who escaped the fire said the factory staff were mostly women employed on a casual basis.

Mumum, who goes by one name, told Indonesia's TVOne she started working at the factory a few weeks ago and was paid 40,000 rupiah (£2.20) a day.

"I lost so many friends. I couldn't help. Everybody just ran for safety," she said, weeping.

The factory is next to a residential area in Tangerang, a city in Banten province on the western outskirts of Jakarta. A police report said the fire spread after an explosion and that the factory's roof had collapsed.

Mr Kurniawan said more than 40 injured people were being treated at three hospitals.

The factory had been operating for less than two months, he added.

"We are still investigating the cause of the fire and questioning witnesses," Mr Kurniawan told reporters. "Factory owners or anyone who neglects and violates safety rules should be held legally responsible."

MetroTV, quoting a local official, said that although the factory had a permit, its proximity to a residential area was against regulations.

AP

Press Association

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