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Indonesia names two Chinese nationals as suspects in nickel fire

Indonesia named two Chinese nationals as suspects in an investigation into a deadly blast at a nickel smelter owned by top producer Tsingshan Holding Group.

The fire, which killed 21, showed the hidden cost of the Southeast Asian nation’s rapid expansion of its nickel industry. Indonesia now makes more than half of the global supply thanks to a wave of Chinese investments into plants that process the metal, which have come under scrutiny due to a series of accidents at the sites.

A spokesperson for the police in Central Sulawesi, home to the Morowali Industrial Park where the fire took place, didn’t say why they were named as suspects and identified them only by their initials.

One was a furnace supervisor at a different smelter in the park who had been seconded to Tsingshan’s facility, while the other was also employed by a different firm.

(By Chandra Asmara and Eddie Spence)

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