Two die, 52 hurt in Indon factory blaze

SURABAYA: Two people were killed and at least 52 injured when an explosion ripped through a chemical factory near Indonesia's second city of Surabaya yesterday in what appeared to be an accident, officials said. 

Hundreds of people fled their homes in nearby villages after the blast, fearing chemical contamination and the spread of a fire which engulfed the sprawling complex, according to local television. 

“It was a thundering sound like an erupting volcano,” Slamet, a police officer near the scene, said by telephone from the East Java industrial town of Gresik on the edge of Surabaya. 

He said 54 people, most of them workers at the sprawling factory owned by PT Petro Widada which makes chemicals used in plastics, were injured in the fire that followed the blast. 

Hospitals in Gresik and Surabaya said that two people admitted after the blast later died from burns. 

In Surabaya, East Java police spokesman Sad Harunantyo said: “Up until now, we still see it as an ordinary accident. No signs of anything else yet.” 

A spokesman for PT Petro-kimia Gresik, which built the Widada plant and is a shareholder in it, said authorities were still investigating the incident. 

“It is not clear where the fire originated. At the moment the plant is blanketed with heavy smoke and fire,” spokesman Agung Setyo Budi said. – Reuters  

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