Indonesian officials call for audit after Pertamina fire kills 15

JAKARTA (Reuters) -Indonesian officials called for an investigation and an audit of state energy company Pertamina's facilities after a fire at its storage facility killed 15.

The fire, which started at around 8 pm (0100 GMT) on Friday from a fuel pipe at Pertamina's Plumpang fuel storage depot in capital Jakarta, quickly spread to nearby houses and sent residents in the densely populated area into panic.

Authorities initially put the death toll at 17 but revised it later to 15. Dozens were injured and more than a thousand people were displaced, police said on Saturday.

"I have ordered Pertamina to immediately investigate this case thoroughly," State-Owned Enterprise Minister Erick Thohir said via his Instagram page.

"There must be an operational review," he added.

The fire has since been extinguished, and Pertamina said it had lifted the emergency status for the facility and restarted distribution activities, adding fuel supply for Jakarta would remain secure.

Investigation was still ongoing to find out the cause of the fire, but the company said in a statement on Saturday that a pipe leak was detected prior to the fire.

The fire left dozens of houses and some cars charred. Some residents were seen returning to their homes to check the extent of the damages or to salvage their belongings from the debris.

Some were going from one hospital to another, searching for their missing relatives.


Sugeng Suparwoto, who heads parliament's energy committee, has called for an audit of Pertamina's facilities.

"All facilities, whether refineries or storage, must be audited again," he said on KompasTV, noting that Pertamina often had fire incidents at its facilities.

In 2021, a major fire broke out at Pertamina's refineries in Balongan and Cilacap.

Sugeng also said there should be a bigger distance between Pertamina's storage facilities and residential areas. "For a facility with Plumpang's capacity, there should be at least one to two kilometres distance with residential area."

Plumpang depot, with a storage capacity of over 300,000 kilo litres, is one of Pertamina's biggest fuel terminals.

A dense residential area stands outside the Plumpang's outer wall, separated only by a narrow street, a Reuters witness said.

Local residents could smell the fuel around 30 minutes before the fire, Abdul Syukur, who lives nearby, told KompasTV.

"The smell was so strong there were people throwing up and some nearly fainted," he said.

(Reporting by Fransiska Nangoy, Willy Kurniawan, Bernadette Christina Munthe; Editing by Himani Sarkar)