Explosion, inferno at Indonesia fireworks factory kills 47

by

October 27, 2017
Police officers and rescuers inspect the site of an explosion at a firecracker factory in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia on Thursday. The explosion and raging fire killed a number of people and injured dozens, police said. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

TANGERANG, Indonesia (AP):

An explosion and inferno at a fireworks factory near the Indonesian capital on Thursday killed at least 47 people, most of them female workers who were apparently locked inside, and injured dozens.

Witnesses said a huge explosion was heard from the factory at about 10 a.m. and then smaller blasts echoed across the neighbourhood as orange flames jumped from the building and columns of black smoke billowed from it.

The death toll could rise as many of those who escaped suffered extensive burns, said Nico Afinta, general crimes director at Jakarta police. He said bodies were found piled at the rear of the building.

Police said 103 people were working at the factory and 10 are still unaccounted for. It is possible that some or all of those 10 had not come to work or suffered only minor injuries and didn't seek medical attention, said Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono.

A local resident told Indonesia's MetroTV that he saw police and residents smash through a wall of the factory so that trapped workers could escape. Some of the victims were burning as they ran out, he said.

STRONG EXPLOSION

"The fire began with a strong explosion like a bomb," Benny, who goes by one name, told the TV channel.

A worker who escaped the fire said the factory's staff was mostly women employed on a casual basis.

Mumum, who goes by one name, told Indonesia's TVOne that she started working at the factory a few weeks ago and was paid 40,000 rupiah (US$3) a day.

"I lost so many friends. I couldn't help. Everybody just ran for safety," she said, weeping.

The factory is located next to a residential area in Tangerang, a city in Banten province on the western outskirts of Jakarta. A police report said that the fire spread after an explosion that caused the roof to collapse.