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Indonesia's Pertamina still trying to extinguish fire at Balongan refinery

JAKARTA, March 30 (Reuters) - Indonesian state oil firm Pertamina said on Tuesday it was still trying to fully extinguish a fire that broke out at its Balongan refinery a day before, injuring six people and prompting the evacuation of hundreds of nearby residents.

Pertamina chief executive Nicke Widyawati said late on Monday the fire had been contained to a small area, and she was optimistic it could be put out soon.

“Yesterday we carried out an isolated fire control, (and) now we are taking an offensive effort to further extinguish the fires,” Ifki Sukarya, a Pertamina spokesman, said on Tuesday.

About 950 people left their homes due to the fire and a resulting explosion at the plant on Java island on Monday, though some had started to return, according to the company.

Videos shared on social media showed huge flames engulfing part of the 125,000 barrel per day facility, while a large explosion can be heard.

Pertamina expects operations to be restored in four to five days as damage was limited to the storage area of the West Java refinery and did not affect its oil processing area, company officials said on Monday.

Nicke said in a statement late on Monday that only 7% of the 1.35 million kilo litres (KL) of storage capacity at Balongan was affected by the fire.

The company estimated the storage tanks on fire were only holding around 23,000 KL of gasoline prior to the blaze.

Pertamina said there were no fatalities caused by the fire, but local media said one resident had died from a heart attack suspected to be due to the shock of the explosion.

The state company said national fuel stocks remained secure despite the fire and any shortage of fuel supply to Jakarta, which Balongan serves, will be replaced by refineries in Cilacap and Tuban.

West Java police are waiting for the fire to be put out before starting an investigation to determine the cause of the fire. (Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Ed Davies and Jan Harvey)

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