Indonesian rescuers are searching for more than a dozen people missing under the rubble of charred houses and buildings, after a large fire spread from a fuel storage depot in the capital, killing at least 18 people.
The Plumpang fuel storage station, operated by state-run oil and gas company Pertamina, is near a densely populated area in the Tanah Merah neighbourhood in North Jakarta. It supplies 25% of Indonesia’s fuel needs.
It took at least 260 firefighters and 52 fire engines to extinguish the blaze just before midnight on Friday after it tore through the area for more than two hours, fire officials said.
A preliminary investigation showed the fire broke out when a pipeline ruptured during heavy rain, possibly triggered by a lightning strike, san official said.
Residents living near the depot said they smelled a strong odour of petrol, followed by a huge explosion.
Sri Haryati, a mother of three, said the fire began to spread about 20 minutes later, causing panic.
Rescuers are searching for 16 people who were reported missing or separated from their families amid the chaos. About 42 people are receiving treatment in five hospitals, some of them in critical condition.
National Police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo said more than 1,300 people were displaced and taking shelter in 10 government offices, a Red Cross command post and a sports stadium.
He said investigators were still working to establish the cause of the fire and questioning dozens of witnesses.