An oil refinery, located in West Java province of Indonesia, has caught up fire amid reports a loud bang was heard before the facility went up in flames. The refinery is located some 200 km (124 mi) east of the capital Jakarta.
The fire at the Balongan oil refinery, operated by Pertamina, Indonesia state-owned oil and natural gas company, erupted on Monday morning local time.
Videos purportedly filmed not far from the scene of the incident show columns of fire turning the predawn skies yellow.
Huge pillars of smoke can be seen billowing from the site.
One video shows visibly distressed locals scream and flee for safety as a distinctive loud sound, similar to that of an explosion, can be heard in the background.
Local media reported, citing witnesses, that the blaze could be seen from a distance as far as 5 km (3,1 mi) away from the facility.
A witness, cited by Indonesia’ Republica daily, said that the area was hit by bolts of lightning and thunder before he heard what he described “a sound of an explosion” from the refinery.
It’s unclear so far what caused the inferno.
The Balongan refinery kicked off its operation in 1994. Last month, Pertamina announced it embarked on increasing the facility’s production capacity from 125 MBSD (million barrels of steam per day) to 150 MBSD. The upgrade was expected to “increase national energy security,” according to the company.
In addition to upping its capacity, the company plans to build a petrochemical plant, linked to the refinery. The project, which is being implemented together with Taiwan’s CPC Corp, will see the future plant and the refinery be integrated into a single complex worth some $12 billion. The construction is set to be completed by 2026.