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Lithuania gas pipeline explodes, nearby village evacuated

January 13, 2023

The explosion occurred in northern Lithuania, with no victims reported so far. Lithuanian authorities are now conducting a probe into the blast.

Explosion at gas pipeline in Lithuania
The blast reportedly occurred away from residential buildingsImage: Gintautas Geguzinskas/Facebook

A gas pipeline in northern Lithuania exploded on Friday, local authorities said.

"At around 5:00 p.m. (1900 GMT), an explosion took place on the Amber Grid gas pipeline in the Pasvalys district. According to preliminary data, no one was injured," Amber Grid said in an online statement.

"The explosion took place away from residential buildings," the statement added. 

Firefighters manage to extinguish fire

Amber Grid said there are two parallel pipelines in the area, with the company saying "initial data indicate that the explosion occurred in one of them. The other pipeline was not damaged."

The blast caused flames to rise some 50 meters (160 feet) in the air according to Lithuania's public broadcaster LRT.  

Firefighters were on location to put out the flames. Amber Grid later said the fire had been extinguished. 

Nemunas Biknius, CEO of Amber Grid, said that while an inquiry had already been started, the incident was not being seen as suspicious.

Lithuania conducting investigation

Lithuanian authorities are now conducting a probe into the explosion, with the cause still unclear. LRT reported that a local village of 250 people was evacuated.  

The gas pipeline connects Lithuania and neighboring Latvia

"We plan to restore the gas supply in a few hours, in comparable amounts," Biknius told journalists. "We plan that the clients will not feel an impact from this event."  

According to Latvian Energy Minister Raimonds Cudars, natural gas supplies to Latvia are currently unaffected.

In June 2022, Lithuania banned the import of gas from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. 

A month earlier, the Baltic state had launched a pipeline that linked the country, along with Latvia and Estonia, to the European gas network, via Poland.

Meanwhile, January 13th is Freedom Defenders Day in Lithuania. On this day in 1991, Soviet soldiers fired on Lithuanian civilians shortly after the Baltic country gained its independence from the bloc, leaving 14 people dead in Vilnius.

wd, ss/msh (AFP, Reuters)