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Explosion in a gas terminal in Austria: one dead and 18 wounded

Ⓒ AFP – Tomas HULIK – | Fire after an explosion at the Baumgarten gas terminal, Austria, December 12, 2017

An explosion on Tuesday morning in a major gas terminal in Austria killed one and 18 wounded, according to the relief, and fears of supply disruptions to Italy and Croatia.

The police accidental explosion occurred at 08:45 (0745 GMT) at the Baumgarten terminal near the Slovakian border and was followed by a fire that was “quickly under control” but whose flames were visible for several kilometers around, according to witnesses.

“I heard a huge explosion and initially thought of a plane crash, and then I saw this huge sheaf of flames,” photographer Thomas Hulik, who lives in a Slovak village next to the site.

According to a spokeswoman for the Lower Austrian Red Cross, Sonja Kellner, the death toll is one death and 18 wounded who needed further care. One of the wounded is in a “serious” state, the police said.

Ⓒ AFP – Paul DEFOSSEUX – | Austria: deadly explosion in a gas terminal

The victims were on the site at the time of the explosion and were evacuated with a large rescue device that mobilized some 200 people.

The Baumgarten terminal is one of the main distribution centers in Central Europe for gas arriving from Russia and Norway in Austria. In addition to Italy and Croatia, it serves part of the west of the continent via Germany.

The explosion caused “significant damage”, told AFP a spokesman for the operator of the site, Gas Connect Austria, a 51% subsidiary of the Austrian energy group OMV.

The site, which employs 50 people as well as external service providers, was evacuated and placed in “secure mode”. “Delays in deliveries to Italy and Croatia are possible,” said spokesman Armin Teichert, while ensuring that traffic to western Europe would be spared.

Around 11:00 am (10:00 GMT), a thick plume of smoke was still visible on the site, according to an AFP journalist, as well as car carcasses where part of the bodywork seems to have literally melted.

Ⓒ APA/AFP – ROBERT JAEGER – | Smoke escapes from Baumgarten gas terminal in Austria after an explosion on December 12, 2017

With an annual capacity of 40 billion cubic meters, the Baumgarten terminal, inaugurated in 1959, is one of the main gas hubs in Central Europe and processes 6 million cubic meters of gas per hour during this period. year, according to Gas Connect.

In a statement, the Russian giant Gazprom, one of the main suppliers of the terminal, said “work on a redistribution of gas flows” following this accident and assured “to do everything possible to ensure an uninterrupted supply of gas. gas for its customers “.

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