An explosion occurred Friday in a gas pipeline in central Lithuania, officials said. Baltic media reported that it caused no injuries but sent flames up to 50 meters (164 feet) high and forced the protective evacuation of a nearby village.
The operator of Lithuania’s natural gas transmission system, AB Amber Grid, said there are two parallel pipelines, and “initial data indicate that the explosion occurred in one of them. The other pipeline was not damaged”
The gas supply through the damaged pipeline in the Pasvalys area was immediately interrupted.
“We immediately started to investigate the circumstances of the incident and ensure gas supply to consumers,” Nemunas Biknius, Amber Grid CEO said in a statement.
He said the government had been informed.
Lithuanian broadcaster LRT said the village of Valakeliai, with about 250 inhabitants, was being evacuated as a precaution.
According to the Baltic News Service, the pipeline carries natural gas from Klaipeda in Lithuania to Latvia. Klaipeda sits on the Baltic Sea and is the only major seaport in Lithuania.
Raimonds Cudars, the energy minister in neighbouring Latvia, said the explosion in Lithuania so far has not caused problems with natural gas supplies in Latvia.
BNS said Cudars had been informed that the reason for the explosion was a technical accident.
Firefighters rushed to the scene and flames lit up the dark Lithuanian sky and were visible several kilometres (miles) away as the gas remaining in the pipe continued to burn Friday evening.