Culture&Arts

Indonesia oil well fire kills 11 people, injures dozens

Indonesia oil well fire kills 11 people, injures dozens

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the well in Pasi Putih village in the east of Aceh province ignited at about 1.30 am and is still burning.

The police chief said the well may have been unauthorized.

"We would not dare to return because the fire is not extinguished yet and we afraid of more explosions", she said.

After learning of the oil spill, other villagers came and tried to collect the oil, Sutopo said, and in the early hours of Wednesday, fire broke out, likely ignited by a smoking villager.

Five homes were also destroyed in the disaster.

The blaze comes almost a month after an oil spill at state-owned oil and gas firm Pertamina, in East Kalimantan, which spread across an area greater than the city of Paris and caused an out-of-control blaze that killed five fishermen.

"At least 10 bodies have been removed and there are still obstacles in the evacuation process because the fire can not be extinguished", Hendro added.

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Edi Gunawan, director of a local hospital, told Indonesian television that those hospitalized have burns over between 20 and 60 percent of their bodies.

"Everyone was shouting 'Fire!"

The number of injured stood at 40, he added. "Fire!' I also heard people screaming in pain and asking for help".

Police say the well may have been drilled illegally, a regular occurrence in the petroleum-rich province.

"We suspect this is a well drilled by the community, and that someone was smoking in the area at the time [of the fire]", Wahyu Kuncoro said.

Such illegal drilling is common in Aceh, where state-run oil and natural gas company Pertamina operates an oil field.


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