27 Jun 2014

Gas pipeline blast kills 16 in India

10:05 pm on 27 June 2014

A massive explosion on a state-owned gas pipeline running through the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has killed at least 14 people and gutted scores of houses.

The blast happened on Friday near a refinery owned by the Gas Authority of India Limited in East Godavari district, AFP reports.

State home minister N. Chinna Rajappa said 13 bodies have been recovered so far.

A massive fire broke out after the blast, according to broadcaster NDTV. It was brought under control after two hours and gas supplies had been cut.

Most victims perished in the flames that reached 20 metres high, while up to 20 people have been injured.

The fire broke out on a stretch of pipeline running through the village of Nagaram,more than 550km northeast of state capital Hyderabad, engulfing buildings and burning victims to death. Many such projects are opposed by villagers on safety grounds.

It is the most deadly incident in the Indian energy sector since August 2013, when 28 people were killed in a fire at Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd's refinery at Vizag in Andhra Pradesh.

Site operator Gas Authority of India Limited said the fire broke out in a pipeline near a refinery complex and the cause is not yet known.

GAIL is India's largest state-owned natural gas processing and distribution company. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolences and said he had spoken to authorities to ensure immediate relief to those affected.