Massive fireball explosion engulfs oil refinery with hundreds evacuated

At least five people were injured and hundreds were evacuated in a massive explosion in an oil refinery in Indonesia.

Indonesian state oil company Pertamina said Monday the Balongan oil refinery in West Java has been closed as firefighters battled to control the inferno.

About 950 residents nearby have been evacuated, Pertamina said. Pictures on social media showed huge flames engulfing the 125,000 barrels per day facility.

A big explosion could also be heard.

The fire started just after midnight, local media reported, while Pertamina said in a statement it broke out in bad weather.

An “oil flow control” was carried out to prevent further spread.

“The cause of the fire is unknown, but there was heavy rain and lightning strikes during the incident,” it said.

Pertamina spokesman Ifki Sukarya said five people were being treated for burns in the hospital, adding that some were passing near the refinery when the fire broke out.

No pertamina staff were injured, he said.

The fire was concentrated in the refinery’s storage units and there was no impact on the processing facility, Pertamina said.

The recordings of the fire showed that on Monday morning the fire was still blazing and a massive column of black smoke was rising from the site about 225 km east of the capital Jakarta.

Smoke rises during the fire at the Pertamina oil refinery in Balongan

Smoke rises during the fire at the Pertamina oil refinery in Balongan

West Java police will be involved in investigating the cause of the fire, police spokesman Erdi Chaniago told Reuters.

“We are securing the site at the moment because the fire is still going on. We cannot investigate the scene yet, the cooling had to be done by Pertamina first,” he said.

A local resident told Metro TV that she was awakened by a pungent smell of oil fumes and saw lightning strikes in the sky.

“At first we smelled a strong fuel odor that was so strong that my nose ached while we heard lightning strikes,” said Susi, who gave only one name.

“Suddenly the sky was orange,” she said.

Balongan, one of Pertamina’s largest refineries, processes crude oil from the Duri and Minas fields in Riau Province and supplies fuel to Jakarta and the western regions of Java Island.

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