At least 15 people have been killed and 14 more have been injured after a state-owned gas pipeline exploded in India Friday.
The pipeline exploded at about 5:30 a.m. Friday in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, shooting flames more than 80 feet in the air. The fire burned for more than three hours but has been brought under control, officials said. Villages surrounding the explosion, which occurred in Nagaram village in the East Godavari district, were evacuated and overall damage to the surrounding area is being assessed.
“The fire has been extinguished now and rescue operations are on,” Vandana Chanana, an official from Gas Authority of India Ltd, the company in charge of the pipeline, said.
So far, officials don’t know what caused the explosion. Reuters reports that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said victims of the explosion and their relatives would receive compensation for the accident, with 200,000 rupees ($3,328) paid to relatives of those who died in the accident and 50,000 rupees (about $831) for those who were injured. Relief payments by India’s petroleum industry and Gas Authority of India Ltd. would also be made.
The fire is the deadliest energy sector event in India since a fire Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd’s refinery in Andhra Pradesh killed 28 people in August 2013. India has struggled to find ways to provide its 400 million citizens who lack electricity with power, while also addressing its role as the world’s third most highly carbon emitting country. India’s new prime minister has signaled a push toward more solar in the country, an ambition that, if reached, could help wean the country off its reliance on coal, oil and natural gas.
Other parts of the world have also faced their share of natural gas pipeline explosions in recent years. In February, a natural gas pipeline explosion in Kentucky leveled homes and placed Adair County under a state of emergency. In January, a TransCanada-owned natural gas pipeline explosion in Manitoba, Canada cut off gas supplies for 4,000 residents during sub-zero temperatures. And in 2000, a natural gas pipeline explosion in New Mexico killed five adults and five children who were camping near the pipeline.
AP has raised the death count of the incident to 15, after one person succumbed to injuries. The post has been updated to reflect this change.