The number of deaths from the fire at Indonesia Tsingshan Stainless Steel’s (ITSS) nickel smelter has increased to 18 from the initial fatality figure of 13, Reuters reported.

The fire broke out at the subsidiary of China’s Tsingshan Holding Group’s nickel smelter furnace in Morowali, on Sulawesi island, on Sunday, 24 December. Operations at the smelter have been paused, as authorities are investigating the cause of the fire.

The smelter facility is located at Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park.

Local police stated that the victims included eight foreign workers. China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has confirmed that four of its nationals were among the initial 13 dead.

BNN noted that labour unions are raising questions over the safety measures at such facilities.

Indonesia is one of the largest producers of nickel in the world and the country has banned the export of unprocessed nickel ore. The move was directed to promote investment in smelting and processing of the metal.

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By GlobalData

The nickel produced at the facility will be used in the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles and stainless steel.

However, the industry has seen several fatal accidents in the recent years.

This incident was the third this year at the Chinese company. In April this year, two dump truck operators were killed and two workers died during riots in January which broke out during a protest over safety conditions and wages.

Such incidents emphasise the need to boost safety measures, strict compliance with international labour standards and environmental monitoring protocols for the nickel smelting industry.

The company has agreed to provide a compensation of Rp25m ($1,700) per victim and additional support to the families of the victims. It also agreed to provide Rp600m ($41,000) for employees who’ve lost their lives in the explosion.

The compensation for non-fatal victims will be decided based on individual cases, BNN reported.