18 killed in Indonesia oil well fire

Firefighters work near the site of a fire at an oil well in Peureulak Indonesia's Aceh province

Firefighters work near the site of a fire at an oil well in Peureulak Indonesia's Aceh province

"We don't know if there are still victims because we can not get any closer", said the local disaster mitigation agency's head Syahrizal Fauzi.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the well in Pasir Putih village in eastern Aceh province ignited at about 1:30 a.m. and firefighters were still struggling to extinguish the flames late in the afternoon.

"We're still unable to control the fire".

He said all injured victims were being treated at three different hospitals in Peureulak.

He said the well, drilled to a depth of about 250 metres, was gushing when it ignited and many people were around it trying to collect the oil.

The agency listed 19 people as injured and said five houses were destroyed by the inferno.

"We are still collecting data on the number of victims because the fire has not been extinguished yet", the agency said in a statement. He confirmed the well operation was illegal, but he said many villagers depended on it for their livelihood.

An oil spill sparked a huge fire about 1:30 am in a residential area on Sumatra island's Aceh province destroying at least three hou

Such illegal drilling is common in Aceh, where state-run oil and natural gas company Pertamina operates an oil field.

Personnel from a joint search and rescue (SAR) team have found the body of another victim of an oil well fire in East Aceh regency, Aceh, bringing the death toll in the incident to 11.

There are reportedly tens of thousands of such wells across the Southeast Asian archipelago.

In October, 47 people died after a blaze tore through a fireworks factory outside Jakarta.

Abandoned oil wells are sometimes re-tapped while locals also drill into fresh sites to find new sources.

That directive followed a balcony collapse at the Jakarta Stock Exchange building which injured dozens.

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