Massive fire engulfs Indonesian oil refinery

by AFP

JAKARTA – A massive blaze broke out Monday at one of Indonesia’s biggest oil refineries after a huge explosion turned the sprawling complex into a raging inferno.

Firefighters battled to contain the fire at the Balongan refinery in West Java, operated by state oil company Pertamina, as towering plumes of black smoke rose into the sky.

At least five people were seriously injured and about 1,000 local residents were evacuated from the scene after the fire broke out early Monday morning.

The local disaster agency said one person had died from a heart attack after the explosion.

About 15 people were slightly injured and authorities said they were checking on the whereabouts of three others.

“To prevent the fire from spreading we’ve shut down operations … and are putting our efforts into handling the blaze,” Pertamina’s president director Nicke Widyawati said in a statement.

The cause of the fire was not clear, but the company said the blaze broke out during a lightning storm.

Pertamina said it did not expect the fire to cause fuel supply disruptions due to the high volume of stock it has on hand.

The sprawling refinery is about 200 kilometres (120 miles) east of the capital Jakarta.