An explosion has rocked a pipeline in Russia’s Chuvash Republic several hundred kilometers east of Moscow, causing a major fire, local officials said.
The incident along the route, which is used to transport energy to Europe, killed at least three people and injured another one, while prompting gas prices in Europe to soar.
The local administration’s press service said the blast occurred along the Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod pipeline. It added that the operating company had been conducting maintenance work on the conduit before the fire broke out.
Of the three dead and one injured, “all of them were working on the gas pipeline,” local emergency services confirmed.
The regional directorate of Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations said earlier that the fire was caused by a gas leak at an underground pipeline close to the village of Yambahtino. It added that it had sent several fire-fighting crews to the scene.
Oleg Nikolaev, the head of the Chuvash Republic, noted that the pipeline was used to deliver energy to Europe, and now it has been blocked off from two sides.
Videos posted on social media showed a large pillar of fire towering over nearby buildings. The Mash Telegram channel reported that locals said temperatures near the scene were so hot they were unable to approach their homes.
The incident prompted gas prices in Europe to spike, exceeding $1,250 per one thousand cubic meters, according to data from the ICE exchange. The pipeline serves as a route for transporting natural gas from Western Siberia to Europe via Ukraine.
The 4,500 km conduit crosses the border between the two countries in Kursk Region at the town of Sudzha, which remains the only point through which the gas is still flowing to Europe via Ukraine amid fighting between Moscow’s and Kiev’s forces.