Java Blackout; Eyewitness Reports of Violent Power Line Burst



Laila Afifa

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Residents of Malon Village in Gunungpati, Semarang City, remains bewildered by the massive explosion they heard coming from a high-voltage power line (SUTET) just before the blackout known as the Java power outage crisis.

    The explosion itself took place on Sunday, August 4, that according to an eyewitness, originated from a kapok tree that is said to have caused PT Telkom’s wifi wired network to go up in flames and end up being severely damaged.

    “The first blast was at the kapok tree, 30-minutes later it spread to the Telkom wifi wired network,” said Supratyo today, who is the urban village head (RT) of Malon Village, Gunungpati, Semarang City.  

    Supratyo also mentioned the creeping sound from the extra-high-voltage power line that gradually became louder prior to the explosion.

     A Harrowing Scene

    The urban village head elaborates that the kapok tree underneath a power line was the first object to catch fire and burst into flames. It was immediately followed by glazing fire rushing through the cable networks run by the state-owned communication firm Telkom, then a series of four bursts occurred in a row.

    The residents were in the real panic as the cable that caught fire was reaching closer to their village.

    “The fiercely burnt cables were scattered across the street. Confusion and panic initially struck but they managed to organize and put out all the fire that came from the scattered cables,” Supratyo recalled.

    Two local residents were injured because of the incident. Muhammad Said was electrocuted while Usep was thrown to the ground because of electric shock. Both were immediately rushed to local hospitals. The trees underneath the power line have since been trimmed.

    Supratyo acknowledged he was surprised by the incident as state-owned electricity firm PLN had always conducted routine maintenance in the area by trimming tall trees beneath the extremely high-voltage cables prior to the massive blackout.