Children among 30 dead in Indonesia matchstick factory blaze

Women working in the matchstick factory in the town of Binjai often brought their children to work, a relative said.

    Bodies were taken to a police hospital and their identification is ongoing [Septianda Perdana/Antara Foto via Reuters]
    Bodies were taken to a police hospital and their identification is ongoing [Septianda Perdana/Antara Foto via Reuters]

    At least 30 people have been killed by a fire that swept through a private home doubling as a matchstick factory in Indonesia, authorities said.

    Several children were among those killed, Irwan Syahri from the Langkat district's disaster mitigation agency told reporters on Friday, adding that many of the bodies recovered had been burned beyond recognition. 

    Local TV showed plumes of black smoke billowing from the building in the town of Binjai in North Sumatra province, about 70km west of provincial capital Medan. 

    The cause of the fire was unclear, North Sumatra police spokesman MP Nainggolan said. It is also unknown how many people were in the building when the fire started - local media said four people had managed to flee, while Binjai police chief Nugroho Tri Nuryanto said only three had escaped.

    "They were trapped in a room - there was no way," Nuryanto told local media outlet Tribun News, adding that authorities were still scouring the scene and identifying bodies. 

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    Relatives of the workers flocked to a police hospital in Medan, where the bodies were taken.

    Faisal Riza, whose wife Maria died in the fire, told the Associated Press that the workers at the factory were all women, some of whom brought their children with them. 

    "I was walking to a mosque for prayers when I heard the factory in an alley just about 200 meters from my house was on fire," he said. "I ran to save her, but it was too late. When I got there, the factory was burned down." 

    The owner of the house, an elderly woman identified only as Ros, told the local Metro TV station that she had been renting the property for four years to a businessman from Medan. 

    Millions of Indonesians work in unsafe conditions in informal or poorly regulated industries and accidents and fatalities are common. 

    Dozens died in February when an unlicensed gold mine in North Sulawesi collapsed. In 2017, at least 47 people died and dozens more were injured when a fire tore through a fireworks factory outside capital Jakarta. 

    SOURCE: News agencies