Indonesia authorities are reporting that 10 people have been killed and as many as 40 suffered injuries in an Aceh oil fire, which has proved troublesome for firefighters battling the blaze.
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. The police chief said the well may have been unauthorized.
“We suspect this is a well drilled by the community... and we suspect there was someone smoking in the area at the time,” police official Wahyu Kuncoro said.
At least 10 bodies have been recovered so far and dozens of people were transported to a Banda Aceh hospital. 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.
Spokesman of Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, posted images and videos from the scene of the tragedy to social media.
“I woke up when a very loud explosion shook our house like an earthquake,” 16-year-old resident Riska Sri Maulidyawati said. “All our neighbors ran out to see what happened, but another loud explosion made everyone run away in panic.”
“Everyone was shouting ‘Fire! Fire!’ I also heard people screaming in pain and asking for help."
Indonesia has a population more than 260 million people and is no stranger to deadly blazes. In October 2017, about 47 people died after a fireworks factory outside Jakarta caught fire.
Aceh has major untapped natural gas reserves which result in illegal wells run by locals.