An explosion occurred at an ammunition depot belonging to the Navy in Pondok Dayung, Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, on Wednesday, killing one and injuring up to 87 people.
Indonesian Military (TNI) spokesman Rear Adm. Iskandar Sitompul said that none of the victims were civilians.
“Out of the 87 injured, 72 victims are still in hospital while 15 were allowed to return home. The one fatality died at the scene of the accident,” said Iskandar at a press conference at the Mintohardjo Naval Hospital in Bendungan Hilir, Central Jakarta, as quoted by Antara news agency.
The fatality was identified as First Sgt. Imam Syadii.
According to him, most of the injuries were not caused by the ammunition but by shrapnel resulting from the explosion.
The ammunition depot reportedly exploded at 10:30 a.m on Wednesday. The depot is located on a relatively isolated section of Tanjung Priok Port that is inaccessible to the public.
Iskandar also revealed that the contents of the depot consisted mostly of lightweight ammunition and small firearms and that the area was guarded by 200 to 250 Navy personnel every day.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said reports had been received that police personnel were among the injured. He said the police would help with the investigation even though the Navy was in charge of the case.
The explosion happened after the Navy conducted a routine inspection at 8:15 a.m. at the depot. After the hour-long inspection, smoke was detected inside the compound by members of the Navy. A small explosion occurred at 9:20 a.m., prompting several Navy personnel to flee the site before a much larger blast occurred one minute later.
According to the Navy, a preliminary investigation found that a short circuit was the possible cause of the initial blast. A formal investigation is being carried out to determine the exact cause of the explosion.
Shipbuilder Roni Pranata, who was working at his shipyard at the time of the accident, said the shock wave that followed the explosion shattered windows and caused debris to fall from the ceiling at his workplace, located just 400 meters from the explosion site.
“The plume of smoke was visible from where I work. I saw smoke coming from the site and several little explosions, but there was no fire,” Roni told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday. He added that the smoke dissipated after 10 minutes.
Ojek (motorcycle taxi) driver Tulabi, who witnessed the explosion, said he heard reports that the explosion could be heard from the nearby Tanjung Priok bus station.
“The warehouse exploded like a fireworks display. I saw multiple sparks amid the smoke but not a fire,” he said.
Of the 87 injured, about 20 sustained serious injuries and were sent to Mintohardjo hospital. The remainder, according to Tanjung Priok Port task force officer Zainuddin, were sent to various hospitals in the Tanjung Priok area, including the Port Medical Center, Koja Hospital (RSUD Koja) and Sukmul Sisma Medika Hospital.
The accident on Wednesday adds to the list of incidents involving explosions at depots run by the police and the military in the last three decades.
On Oct. 29, 1984, an ammunition depot at the Bumi Marine Base in Cilandak, South Jakarta, erupted in flames and a large number of shells exploded, killing 15 and injuring 26, with 1,069 buildings in the surrounding area sustaining damage.
On June 17, 2009, an explosion in a simulation room at the police’s Mobile Brigade headquarters in Kelapa Dua, Depok, West Java, blew out the windows of several surrounding houses. No one was injured in the incident. (dyl) The Jakarta Post