Langkat, fire in an illegal factory leaves 30 dead

Two people are under investigation by the authorities for a deadly fire in an illegal lighter factory in the province of North Sumatera (east of Jakarta), which killed 30 people including 24 women and 6 children. The tragedy took place yesterday in Sambirejo, a village in the regency of Langkat, about 70km west of the provincial capital Medan.

Gen. Agus Andrianto, head of the provincial police, reported today that a man and a woman – identified as the owner and director of the illegal laboratory – are currently in a state of detention.

The flames broke out when a worker was checking the operation of a product. This exploded and the worker, in a panic, threw it on thousands of ready-to-pack lighters, triggering a massive explosion. The fire spread quickly, because most of the building structure was made of wood.

The victims trapped inside could not escape because the main door was locked. Binsar Naibaho, head of the local police, says: “Windows and entrances were walled up. We couldn’t even see what had happened inside the factory. ” Four people were saved because they were on their lunch break and they witnessed the drama from outside.

One of the four survivors said that the children who died in the fire were visiting their parents, employed in the lighter factory. Relatives afflicted by grief poured into a hospital in Medan this morning to provide DNA samples to investigators: they will be used for the process of identifying victims, whose bodies are all charred.