Fri, 22 Dec 2000

Explosion at home kills one, injures 3

TASIKMALAYA, West Java (JP): An early morning explosion tore through the home of a man involved in the production of firecrackers, killing his wife and injuring three others, an officer said on Thursday.

The explosion took place on Wednesday at about 1:15 a.m. at the house of the 37-year-old Asep. He and his family live in the Bumi Asri Dirgantara Housing Complex in Indihiang district, Tasikmalaya regency.

"The explosion damaged no fewer than 33 nearby houses. Most of the houses had some windows broken, and some walls were also cracked," Tasikmalaya Police chief of detectives Sr. Insp. Bahruddin said.

The three people who were injured in the blast were identified as Nonon, 29, a servant at the house, and two of Asep's children, Novi, 15, and Dian, 13.

Asep's wife, Dede Julaeha, 30, died instantly in the explosion. She was buried by relatives on Wednesday.

Angered by the damage caused to their homes, neighbors attempted to assault Asep, but the police quickly took him into custody and prevented any vigilante justice.

Asep is now being held at the Tasikmalaya Police station.

Bahruddin said Asep admitted he had been involved in the production of firecrackers since the beginning of the Ramadhan fasting month.

"Asep said he did not have a steady job so he had to make a living. He said he needed quick cash for the festive season. Selling firecrackers is promising since you can double your starting capital.

"By making Rp 200,000 (US$21) worth of firecrackers you can earn a profit of around Rp 400,000. Asep said he sold the firecrackers around Tasikmalaya, while he obtained the raw materials in Gardu Jati in Bandung," the officer said.

Police said the explosion was caused by a spark which set fire to the materials used to make the firecrackers.

"But we're still investigating the case and tracking the source of the explosive materials," Bahruddin said.

Asep will be charged under Article 359 of the Criminal Code for negligence leading to death, which carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment. He also will be charged under the 1951 Emergency Law on the illegal possession of weapons materials, which carries a maximum sentence of 12 years in jail. (25/edt)