Indonesia’s oil well toll rises to 21

INDONESIA (OBSERVATORY) – A fire that broke out on Wednesday in an illegal oil well in western Indonesia has risen to 21, but the fire has been extinguished, the authorities in the Southeast Asian country said Thursday.

The fire broke out in the middle of the night in a residential neighborhood of Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, and swept through houses in the village of Pyrolac. Police are continuing their investigation into the cause of the fire, which could have been caused by a cigarette that was still burning.

It has risen for Wednesday because three of the injured have died, “the head of the disaster management agency in Aceh, Henni Nurmiani, told AFP. She said 38 people were still in critical condition.

“The fire has now been extinguished but the gas vapors are continuing,” Nurmaini said.

The fire, whose images spread over social networks, was seized by firefighters after hours of effort and the use of special equipment for the Pertamina national oil company.

East Aceh has a large number of oil wells, which are often illegally invested by villagers. Indonesia has tens of thousands of oil wells similar to the well. Citizens behind the oil also seek abandoned wells to sell at low prices.