Locals watch as an illegal oil well burns in Ranto Peureulak, Aceh Province, Indonesia. Photo: Antara Foto/ Rahmad/via Reuters

Some 22 people were killed and 38 injured after a fire broke out at an illegal oil well in East Aceh in Indonesia.

The fire started on Wednesday morning at a crude oil well in Pasir Putih village in Ranto Peureulak district. A total of 38 people suffered serious burns while 22 were killed, The Jakarta Post reported.

The victims are receiving medical treatment at several hospitals in Aceh and Medan in northern Sumatra.

The fire shot up to around 70 meters, destroying several houses and palm trees in the village, Channel News Asia reported.

National police spokesman Setyo Wasisto said there were people digging in the well when a fire suddenly started. In their investigation, the police believe that a cigarette could have started the blaze.

“There were many people there who were smoking. It’s a village, so many were scrambling to get oil and it was crowded,” Wasisto said.

Henny Nurmayani, an official from Aceh’s disaster mitigation agency, said 198 people were evacuated from the area.

“The Aceh administration has channeled emergency relief to all evacuees,” Nurmayani said.

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