Explosion hits gas pipeline connecting Lithuania and Latvia – nearby village set to be evacuated

World

An explosion has hit a gas pipeline connecting Lithuania and Latvia.

The blast happened in the Panevezys county, northern Lithuania, said the country’s gas transmission operator Amber Grid.

Police were preparing to evacuate a nearby village, Baltic news agency BNS reported.

Nemunas Biknius, general director of Amber Grid, said that initial data showed no one was injured and no properties were damaged in the explosion, and an investigation will be launched into the cause.

“According to the initial assessment, we do not see any malign cause, but the investigation will cover all possible options,” he said.

Pic: Gintautas Geguzinskas
Image:
Pic: Gintautas Geguzinskas, Mayor at Pasvalys municipality

Flames rose 165ft (50 meters) in the air and could be seen from a distance of at least 11 miles (17km), LRT reported.

Fires have now been put out, after firefighters had to wait to tackle the flames.

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LRT said the village of Valakeliai, with about 250 inhabitants, was being evacuated as a precaution.

“After the incident, the valves of the gas pipeline were tightened. We do not see any harmful effects on the gas pipeline,” Mr Biknius added.

He said that the gas supply is “currently suspended” with plans to restore it within “a few hours”, and repair works to start tomorrow.

Mayor of Pasvalys district, Gintautas Geguzinskas, told LRT: “We don’t have any information on the cause of the explosion.

“I spoke to a few people near the scene. They told me that earlier today they saw some work being done near the pipeline where the explosion happened. I can’t confirm if this is true or not.”

The gas transmission system in the area consists of two parallel pipelines, and initial data indicates that the explosion occurred in one of them.

The other pipeline remained undamaged.

Consumers in the Pasvalys district are being supplied with gas through the adjacent pipeline.

The area has a population of approximately 6,500.

Pic: Gintautas Geguzinskas
Image:
Pic: Gintautas Geguzinskas, Mayor at Pasvalys municipality

Sky’s Dominic Waghorn said: “It appears to be some kind of device or a terrible accident that ignited the pipeline and exploded it sufficiently to let enough gas escape to cause this kind of fireball.

“The background to this is that we have seen attacks on civilian energy infrastructures both in Ukraine, because of the war there, but also in parts of Russia.

“Whether [the pipeline in Lithuania] is related to the war or not, it isn’t clear, but it is certainly not something that normally happens to pipelines without some presumably nefarious or sinister motivation behind it.”

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