At least 24 people, including children, were killed after a fire broke out at a house that doubles up as a matchstick factory in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province on Friday. Authorities are yet to ascertain how the fire started, AFP quoted officials as saying.
“Most likely they brought the kids to work,” Irwan Syahri, head of Langkat disaster mitigation agency was quoted as saying. He further added that the victims “were all badly burned and hard to recognise”.
It is currently unclear whether there are any survivor. Indonesian media showed footage of a burned-out structure with its floor littered with twisted metal, and blackened corrugated iron, among other debris.
Authorities received information on the toll, but were waiting to confirm it with investigators who were on the way to the spot, Independent quoted North Sumatra police spokesperson Tatan Dirsan Atmaja as saying.
An elderly woman, identified as the owner of the house, told Metro TV that she had rented out the space to a businessman from the provincial capital Medan, AP reported.
Millions of Indonesians work in unsafe conditions and in informal or badly regulated industries where accidents are fairly common.
In 2017, at least 46 people were killed and dozens more injured in a blaze inside a fireworks factory outside Jakarta. In 2015, 17 people were killed when a fire ripped through a karaoke bar on Sulawesi island. Another similar fire episode in 2009 killed 20 people at a karaoke bar in Medan on Sumatra island, according to AFP.