Dozens of Trapped Workers Die in Fireworks Factory Blaze

Police had to smash a wall for them to get out
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 27, 2017 12:27 AM CDT
Fireworks Factory Fire Kills Dozens of Young Women
Police officers and rescuers inspect the site of an explosion at a firecracker factory in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017.   (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

Investigators are trying to determine the cause of an explosion and fire at a fireworks factory near Indonesia's capital that killed at least 47 people Thursday, mostly young female workers unable to escape. Survivors told authorities the fire started in the factory's drying section, where finished fireworks are dried, many under the sun, before they are distributed and sold. Witnesses heard a huge explosion about 10am Thursday, followed by smaller blasts that echoed across the residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Jakarta as orange flames jumped from the building and columns of black smoke billowed, the AP reports.

Police say 46 injured people were hospitalized and the death toll could rise as many of those who escaped suffered extensive burns. A local resident told Indonesia's MetroTV he saw police and residents smash through a wall of the factory so trapped workers could escape. Some of the victims were burning as they ran out, he said. A worker who escaped the fire said the staffers were mostly women employed on a casual basis. She told Indonesia's TVOne she started working at the factory a few weeks ago and was paid $3 a day. "I lost so many friends. I couldn't help. Everybody just ran for safety," she said, weeping. Authorities are investigating allegations some of the workers were underage.

(More Indonesia stories.)

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