Explosion at a nickel plant in Indonesia: 12 dead, 39 injured

Steph Deschamps / December 28, 2023

An explosion at a Chinese-funded nickel processing plant in eastern Indonesia on Sunday left at least 12 people dead and 39 injured, according to an official at the industrial complex where the plant is located.

 
The accident occurred at around 05:30 on Saturday at a factory belonging to PT Indonesia Tsingshan Stainless Steel in the Morowali industrial park on the island of Sulawesi, said Dedy Kurniawan, spokesman for the industrial zone, in a statement.
 
"The current death toll is 51. Twelve people died in the accident. There are 39 people with minor or serious injuries who are currently receiving medical attention," he wrote.
 
He added that the dead were seven Indonesian workers and five foreigners, but did not specify their nationality.
 
According to preliminary investigations, the explosion occurred during repair work on a blast furnace. A flammable liquid ignited, and the fire spread to oxygen tanks, which exploded, explained the spokesman. The fire was extinguished on Sunday morning.
 
The island of Sulawesi is a major production center for nickel, a base metal used in electric car batteries and stainless steel. China has invested heavily in factories there, but working conditions are often criticized.
 
Last January, two workers, including a Chinese citizen, were killed in a nickel smelting plant located in the same industrial complex during a riot sparked by wage conditions and workplace safety.
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