27 June 2014, News Wires – More than a dozen people have been killed after a gas pipeline operated by India’s Gail exploded and erupted in flames in the state of Andhra Pradesh, with many more injured.
Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan has ordered a “high level” inquiry into the early morning Friday blast and is en route to the scene along with other officials.
The explosion occurred at around 5:30am near Nagaram in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, about 600 kilometres from Hyderabad.
Fire spread near the 18-inch gas pipeline operated following the explosion.
A statement released by the Petroleum Ministry via the Indian government’s Press Information Bureau said there had been “some deaths and casualties”, but the “exact number is (still) being ascertained”. It is believed that 15 or more have been killed.
“The injured have been admitted to Amlapuram hospitals,” the ministry said.
“The fire has been brought under control. All the steps have been taken on the site for prevention, like closing of input/output valves to the pipeline.
“The cause of the accident is still not known.”
The blast took place near the refinery complex at Tatipaka operated by state owned player Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). However, there has been no harm to the nearby ONGC complex, according to media reports.
Reuters reported ONGC had shut in two gas fields as a result of the explosion.
“While the explosion killed some persons in nearby houses, the resulting fire engulfed several other houses adjacent to the pipeline trapping residents and many were burnt alive,” the Indian Express reported.
The inquiry called for by Pradhan will be undertaken by a committee headed by the joint secretary of the ministry as well as a nominee from the National Disaster Management Authority.