11 killed in Indonesia oil well fire

25 April, 2018, 16:49 | Author: Wade Massey
  • People try to extinguish a fire at an oil well in Peureulak Indonesia`s Aceh province on 25 April

Environment watchdog Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) is calling on the government to immediately stop illegal crude oil drilling activities in Aceh, following a fire at an illegal oil well in Peureulak, East Aceh, early on Wednesday that killed 11 people.

"There was panic among the public because the fire is in a residential area", said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency.

The victims were collecting oil from around the entrance of a wellbore when the blaze erupted, police said.

An investigation was launched to determine the cause of the blaze.

Fire vehicles arrived at the scene in about an hour to help douse the blaze from a well with a depth of about 250 meters, said Sutopo.

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. Two firefighter trucks could be seen extinguishing the fire.

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The jump in the death toll was from the subsequent deaths of five victims who had been rushed to hospital, authorities said.

"I woke up when a very loud explosion shook our house like an natural disaster", 16-year-old resident Riska Sri Maulidyawati said.

"There was a group of people digging in the old well but suddenly a huge fire was sparked and it exploded", said national police spokesman Setyo Wasisto.

"Children crying and women shouting in panic".

"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.

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