A powerful gas pipeline explosion that sent flames 150 feet into the sky in northern Lithuania was likely caused by a technical fault, officials said.
The head of AB AmberGrid, which operates Lithuania’s natural gas transmission system, said a possible cause of Friday’s explosion was a “defect in the welding seam of the pipeline”.
No casualties were reported, however About 250 people were evacuated. On caution from the nearby village of Valkyliai, near Paswallis, 109 miles north of the capital Vilnius.
The pipeline, which is more than 40 years old, carries gas from Lithuania’s Baltic port of Klaipeda to neighboring Latvia.
Nimonas Bikanius, head of AB AmberGrid, said: “One of the (possible causes) is that the explosion was caused by a fault in the welding seam of the pipeline, but the investigation will provide all the answers in a few days.”
Mr Bikanius said he believed the incident was an accident and not “any deliberate act”, and that an adjacent pipeline was undamaged and continued to supply gas to the area.
Dramatic footage of the explosion showed a huge fire that could be seen from about 11 miles away.
The fire was extinguished by midnight and the evacuees returned to their homes as soon as the repair work started in places.
A municipal government official, Povelas Balciunas, said: “Residents are now safe, there is no risk to their health.
“The gas supply is also restored. The asphalt of the road has melted, but no one was hurt, and that is the most important thing.”
Lithuania completely cut off Russian gas imports in April 2022 in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
The Baltic country imports gas from several countries through the Klaipėda liquefied natural gas terminal built a decade ago.
The terminal meets all of Lithuania’s natural gas needs and allows deliveries to neighboring countries.
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