At least three people died in a fire that occurred in a major Russian gas pipeline, which supplies Europe, indicated this Tuesday the head of the republic of Chuvashiawhere the incident occurred.
“According to preliminary information, four people worked on the site. Unfortunately, three died during a violent gas combustion. One person, a driver, survived and is in shock.”, Oleg Nikolayev, head of that region, located about 600 km east of Moscow, told Russian television.
Nikolayev specified that at the moment it is “unknown” when the operation of the gas pipeline will resume.
The fire broke out in a section of the Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod gas pipeline, opened in Soviet times and which connects the gas fields of northern Russia with the city of Uzhgorod, in western Ukraine.
According to local rescue teams, the fire broke out during maintenance work near the city of Yambakhtino and was brought under control.
“Gas combustion at the accident site was eliminated. It was determined that the explosion occurred during work on a section of the underground gas pipeline,” the regional Emergencies Ministry reported on its Telegram account.
The incident comes as Russia has limited gas supplies to Europe in retaliation for Western sanctions against the Kremlin’s offensive in Ukraine, raising fears of energy shortages in European countries.
This pipeline, which originates from a gas field in Siberia and crosses the Ukraine on its way to Europeit is one of the main routes for Russian gas exports to EU nations.
Chuvashia Governor Oleg Nikolayev said in televised remarks that it was not immediately clear how long it would take to repair that blast-damaged section. The regional arm of Russian natural gas giant Gazprom said gas transit volumes were not affected by the explosion as supplies have continued on parallel links.
(With information from AP and AFP)
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