At least 23 dead in blast at Indonesia fireworks factory

By Ed Adamczyk – UPI

At least 23 people died Thursday in an explosion and fire at an Indonesian fireworks factory — as dozens more were injured and at least 60 went missing, police said.

More than 100 workers were at the factory in a densely populated area of Tangerang, Banten province — about 25 miles west of Jakarta on the island of Java — when the explosion occurred.

“We found 23 severely burned bodies that are very hard to identify,” said Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono, a Jakarta Police spokesman.

Officials said most of the injured workers were in the warehouse area of the factory, which has been operating for only two months.

“The fire started from the front of the building and continued to the backside,” Police Commissioner Nico Afinta said. “Most of [those found dead] were piled up in the back, because it seemed they were trying to avoid the fire at the front.”

An electrical defect is believed to be the cause of the fire, but authorities have opened an investigation into the blast.

The majority of those killed or injured are said to be women workers at the factory.

“The first thing we are going to do after the area has cooled off is a humanitarian effort,” said Harry Kurniawan, Tangerang City’s police chief. “We are going to search whether there are any victims that need immediate treatment at hospitals. We are still counting the number of dead.”

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