10 killed, dozens injured in illegal oil well fire
Apr 26, 2018, 00:39
Five nearby houses were burned in the inferno.
He said 41 people had been admitted to three hospitals.
The fire ignited after a 250-meter deep well overflowed, sending flames towering over buildings - some of which were razed - in the eastern region of the district, officials have said.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the well caught fire earlier Wednesday and is still burning.
"All our neighbours ran out to see what happened, but another loud explosion made everyone run away in panic", she said. Edi Gunawan, director of a local hospital, told Indonesian television that those hospitalized have sustained burns ranging between 20 and 60 percent of their bodies.
"Everyone was shouting 'Fire!"
The BPBD said on Wednesday evening that the fire was yet to be extinguished. "Children were crying and women shouting in panic. It was really scary for me".
The number of injured stood at 40, he added.
Suddenly, the blaze erupted and the victims, who were collecting oil, were trapped in the fire. "We don't know if there are still victims because we can not get any closer", said the local disaster mitigation agency's head Syahrizal Fauzi.
East Aceh is dotted with numerous small-scale oil mining operations, which are often operated illegally by local villagers. "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.
Abandoned oil wells are sometimes re-tapped while locals also drill into fresh sites to find new sources.
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