Disasters & Accidents

Death toll climbs to 16 in explosion at nickel plant in Indonesia

Jakarta, Dec 26 (EFE).- The death toll from an explosion at a Chinese-funded nickel processing plant in central Indonesia climbed to 16, the company officials said Tuesday.

At least 40 people were injured in the accident that occurred early Sunday in Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP) in Sulawesi province.

Company spokesperson Dedy Kurniawan told local media, Kompas, that three of the injured people died in hospital, adding to the 13 workers declared dead on Sunday.

The accident at the plant, owned by the Chinese company Tsinghsan Stainless Steel, occurred when a flammable liquid caught fire in a furnace during repair, causing an explosion.

It took emergency teams about four hours to extinguish the fire that killed at least four Chinese workers. Of the 40 injured, 12 remain hospitalized.

Morowali’s Labour Party released a statement on Sunday calling for an investigation into the incident and denounced the situation of precariousness and poor health and safety standards in the nickel industry.

The Morowali industrial park, created by the Chinese Tsingshan and the Indonesian Bintangdelapan groups, was inaugurated in 2015 and employs tens of thousands of workers from both countries.

Indonesia has the world’s largest reserves of nickel, a mineral in high demand in the face of the rise of electric vehicles, which has attracted growing Chinese investment, mainly on the island of Sulawesi.

Chinese investments in the Indonesian nickel sector are part of its international infrastructure development strategy in the Belt and Road initiative that seeks to connect China with other countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa. EFE

sh-grc/up/sc

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