Austria gas plant burns after deadly explosion

Explosion at Baumgarten, 12 Dec 17Image copyright

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A huge fire ensued – police now say a technical fault was to blame

A big explosion has rocked a natural gas hub in eastern Austria, killing one person and injuring at least 18, police say.

A fire followed the blast which happened around 08:45 (07:45 GMT) at the Baumgarten site, just east of the capital Vienna, near the Slovak border.

On Twitter, Austrian police said the situation was under control and a technical fault had caused the blast.

The flow of Russian gas has dropped, triggering price hikes in Europe.

Baumgarten is a major hub for imported gas Russian gas, which is sent on to a number of European countries. The facility receives about 40bn cubic metres of gas per year.

Italy’s Minister for Economic Development, Carlo Calenda, said he would declare a state of emergency for energy supplies.

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The blaze could be seen from a distance

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The fire has now been brought under control, officials say

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AFP/Getty Images

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The blaze destroyed a number of cars parked nearby

“The installation has been brought under control and operations have been suspended there,” said Armin Teichert, spokesman for the operator, Austria’s Gas Connect service.

Police have cordoned off the area. Some victims suffering burns have been airlifted out by helicopter, Austrian ORF news reports.

One unconfirmed report spoke of 60 hurt.

“I heard a huge explosion and thought at first it was a plane crash,” photographer Thomas Hulik, who lives in a nearby village in Slovakia, told AFP news agency. “Then I saw an immense ball of flame.”

Gas Connect said the incident should have no effect on gas deliveries to Austria but those to Italy and Croatia might be reduced.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Gazprom Export said it was working to redirect gas flows.

It said it was “doing everything possible to secure uninterrupted gas supplies” to customers in the region.

Spot prices rose sharply across Europe after the incident.

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