Saturday, April 16, 2011

Warnings Were Sounded Over Razed Research Centre


Employees at a research centre in Jembrana that was razed to the ground in an electrical fire had made repeated complaints to state energy provider PLN about fluctuating voltages, The Bali Times has learned.

The Office of Maritime Research and Observation, which works under the Maritime and Fisheries Ministry and the Southeast Asia Centre for Ocean Research and Monitoring, went up in flames at around 3am on Monday last week after a suspected electrical short circuit, with fire sweeping rapidly through the building, which was inaugurated in 2004.

Two night watchmen, Ketut Mudiasa and Komang Darmawan, who were on duty at the time, reported that there had been a short power cut before the fire.

They told police that after the power returned they heard the sound of small explosions from the front of the building and found a satellite data receiver on fire.

This was followed by a second explosion from an ocean remote sensing computer, after which the whole building rapidly went up in flames.

A fire engine arrived at the scene at 3.45am, but the building had mostly been destroyed by that stage.

No one was injured.

It is thought that a short circuit was the most likely cause of the fire.

According to the Head of Technical Services at the research centre, Bambang Sukresno, staff had made repeated complaints to PLN about fluctuating voltage in the week before the fire.

He estimated the damage to have caused losses of in excess of Rp10 billion (US$1.15 million).

Around 40 computers, as well as satellite receivers, servers and research documents were destroyed. The centre employs around 50 people.

Jembrana Police and a team from the Bali forensics laboratory are investigating the fire.

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