OT: Explosion rips through gas pipeline in Russia

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Explosion rips through gas pipeline in Russia 2.22 p.m. ET (1934 GMT) December 2, 1999 By Anna Dolgov, Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP)  An explosion tore through two sections of a gas pipeline in central Russia, sending up flames 50 yards high and cutting gas supplies to thousands of people, officials said Thursday. No injuries were reported.

The explosion on a pipeline between the central Russian region of Tatarstan and the western Ukrainian city of Uzhgorod occurred Wednesday on a deserted stretch going through the Kirov region, about 300 miles east of Moscow, Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Vasily Yurchuk said.

Russia supplies gas to many European countries, but the damaged pipeline serves only Russian and Ukrainian customers.

The cause of the blast remained unclear, Yurchuk said. But investigators have not ruled out sabotage, noting that all of the welding seams and joints of the pipeline had remained intact in the explosion.

A spokesman for Gazprom, the natural gas monopoly that runs the pipeline, said repairs would be complete by Friday, and that a reserve pipeline would be used until then.

Russia has worried for months about possible terrorist attacks by Islamic militants from breakaway Chechnya. The militants have been blamed for four Russian apartment bombings that killed some 300 people, prompting Moscow to send troops into the rebel region in September.

Investigators believe an explosion first ripped through one of the eight branches of the pipeline, setting off a blast in a second branch and badly damaging a third one, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

The explosions created two craters four yards deep and 24 yards wide.

The fire was extinguished, the damaged sections of the pipeline sealed off, and there appeared to be no further threat to the environment or the area's residents on Thursday.

Still, the accident left some 24,000 people in the Vyatsko-Polyansky district of the Kirov region temporarily without gas supplies, Yurchuk said.

-- Roland (nottelling@nowhere.com), December 02, 1999


ON ABC News TV saw that Turkey is receiving about 20% less natural gas from Russia and it is causing major problems in central Turkey.

-- Bill P (porterwn@one.net), December 02, 1999.

Yet Again My Might is shown to be Supreme!!!There is no stopping the United Rodent Revolutionary Front!!!My agents are now Firmly in Place to begin the Widespread Destruction that will Bring us, the Rodents our Final and Decisive Victory over the pink and brown Furless Apes!!! Surrender Now!!!Long Live the Rodent Revolution!!!

-- The Squirrel Tzar (StillNutski@upina.Treeski), December 02, 1999.

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