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Asia-pacific

Dozens dead after blaze sweeps through Indonesia fireworks factory

© Federico Parra, AFP | A Venezuelan opposition demonstrator waves a flag at the riot police in a clash during a protest against President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas on May 8, 2017.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-10-26

Police say the death toll from a blaze that tore through a fireworks factory outside the Indonesian capital on Thursday, triggering explosions and sending plumes of black smoke into the air, has risen to 47.

Tangerang police chief Hary Kurniawan says the death toll could rise further as many of the dozens of injured have extensive burns.

He said all 47 bodies recovered so far were found in the remains of the factory and a search is continuing. Many of the bodies of the victims were found clustered at the back of the factory indicating there may have been a panicked rush to flee the flames.

A firefighter at the scene said the victims had been burned beyond recognition.

"Those who died are completely unrecognisable, totally burnt," Oni Sahroni told Metro TV.

The fire broke out at an industrial complex in Tangerang, a satellite city of Jakarta.

Parts of the building collapsed after being gutted by the blaze, which scorched nearby cars. Witnesses reported hearing blasts erupt from the site.

Local resident Beni Benteng told AFP said he heard an explosion and people inside screaming for help.

"My friends and I and some police officers knocked down a wall so people could escape, then the workers came out," he said.

"I saw people including women were jumping from above, oh my God," he added.

The blaze, which broke out in the morning, was brought under control by late afternoon and authorities were working to recover the victims' bodies from the building.

Explosions

Authorities have not yet said how the fire started, but have confirmed it began near the front door and quickly spread.

Desperate friends and family thronged a nearby police hospital in Keramat Kati looking for loved ones.

Video footage shot by an AFP stringer showed victims, covered in bandages, laid out on stretches and others with minor injuries sitting in the hallways or outside.

A factory worker at the hospital in Keramat Kati said the fire erupted in the middle of production.

"I don't know how it happened, I was working outside of the factory and there were some explosions, four cars exploded and almost all motorbikes also exploded," Ade, who suffered burns to his arms and legs, told AFP.

The factory -- part of a complex that borders a residential area -- had only been operating for six weeks, district government official Toni Rustoni told Metro TV.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)

Date created : 2017-10-26

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