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20551 Chemical accident in Indonesia with maleic anhydride
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General accident information
Class/Quality * * *
Year 2004
Summary Overheated machine in chemical plant caused major
Fire, several explosions, release of maleic
Anhydride, pollution of air, evacuation, closure
Of pipeline and 70 casualties
Country RI
Chemicals Ammonia, Maleic anhydride
Cause Technical-failure
Fatalities/Injuries 4 / 66
Occurrences or events Block-of-system, Collapse/Destroy, Evacuation, Explosion,
Fire, Fire, Fire fighting/Emergency response, Ignition,
Ignition, Overheating, Pollution/Contamination, Release,
Full accident information 
download accident report Click here to view a document containing the full accident information

Date : 2004 0120

The death toll in the devastating fire at a chemical plant increased to three after another victim died from severe burns in hospital. The 36-year-old man sustained burns to more than 90% of his body. The man was one of the 13 victims being treated in a hospital, who suffered more severe burns in the fire. He lived for eight days after the fire that followed a chemical tank explosion. While he was hospitalized, he was conscious and was able to move his hands and feet. His condition worsened after doctors removed the respirator. Two days before his death, he was put on the respirator again, but it was unable to save his life. Three other victims died hours after the fire engulfed the chemical plant. Among them the plant and production director.

Fifty-six others were injured. Most of whom suffered serious burns.
Police evacuated hundreds residents within 1/km of the plant as people complained of eye irritations from a huge pall of smoke. More than 100 firemen and police battled to put out the blaze. There was the sound of at least five explosions before a column of black smoke rose into the sky. The blasts were sparked by a fire in several tanks. Flames were 50/m high and smoke could be seen several kilometers away. The fire caused a leak of maleic anhydride from the top of a tank, which ignited, increasing the intensity of the fire. The fire was also threatening some ammonia tanks. The blaze destroyed at least 5 nearby homes. More than 50 fire trucks were deployed at the height of the fire but only masked firefighters could approach the blaze. The state electricity company cut power to the area while the company shut down a pipeline that supplied gas to the industrial complex. The fire was caused by an overheated machine.
The resulting fire lasted until 2330 hours while thick black smoke covered the sky until 1800 hours.
The plant employs some 450 people and makes chemicals used in plastics.
Hundreds of workers are taking indefinite vacations.
The cause of the explosion are currently being investigated by the police. So far, it has been discovered that the communities living in the surrounding area, have complained about water contamination in their wells. The water has a foul smell and when used for bathing the community reports it causes itchiness.

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