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India pipeline blast kills 14, guts houses

By OMER FAROOQ - Jun. 27, 2014 5:09 AM EDT

HYDERABAD, India (AP) - A state-owned gas pipeline exploded and burst into flames Friday, killing at least 14 people, destroying homes and forcing the evacuation of neighboring villages in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, authorities said.

Flames rose more than 80 feet (25 meters) into the air, scorching the tops of coconut and palm trees and sending dense black clouds of smoke into the sky, witnesses said. Villagers ran out of their homes and crowded the streets. Scores of houses and shops were gutted, officials said.

Vandana Chanana, a top official of state-run Gas Authority of India Ltd., said 14 people died and 15 others were injured in the fire in the state's East Godavari district. Doctors said at least six of the injured were in critical condition, company officials said.

"The fire has been extinguished now and rescue operations are on," Chanana said.

Andhra Pradesh Home Minister N. Chinna Rajappa said the explosion occurred at about 5:30 a.m. in Nagaram village, the site of a connecting station for the gas company.

The explosion sent flames shooting into the pre-dawn sky. The fire burned for more than three hours before it was brought under control, Rajappa said.

"The extent of damage is being assessed," he said.

Company officials said it was too early to say what caused the explosion. In New Delhi, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the federal government has set up a panel to investigate the cause.

Nagaram residents said they had complained that the gas pipelines had not been properly maintained, but were ignored.

"People are angry that GAIL authorities didn't pay heed when they complained that the pipes had become rusty," said state Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu.

Residents of neighboring villages were evacuated to safer areas, said East Godavari district collector Neetu Kumari Prasad.

Nagaram is about 560 kilometers (350 miles) east of the state capital, Hyderabad.

Two weeks ago, six people were killed and 29 others injured in an explosion and a subsequent gas pipeline leak at India's biggest government-run steel plant in the central Indian state of Chattisgarh.


Associated Press writer Chonchui Ngashangva in New Delhi contributed to this report.

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skalmb4427 June 27 2014 at 8:54 AM

Sounds like they used cheap Indian or Chinese pipe and paid off the inspectors. What do you expect with the cheap labor and material, you get what you pay for.

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2 replies
michaelawspn skalmb4427 June 27 2014 at 10:49 AM

You are semi correct...Overseas pipeline inspectors do not need to be paid off...The corruption is at the top...And only American workers have legal issues if there is a failure like this one..

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dgoffnspector skalmb4427 June 27 2014 at 10:51 AM

Yep. Which is one of the reasons why the Keystone XL, Phases I, II, and III have had a couple hundred failures, resulting in 10s of thousands of gallons of oil spilled, and why TransAmerica is facing several lawsuits.

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1 reply
larry dgoffnspector June 27 2014 at 2:54 PM

I don't recall ever hearing about any leaks or problems involving the Keystone or XL pipeline. I only heard of one minor issue with the Alaskan pipeline and that involved low pressure from a failed pump which was easily fixed and did not cause any leakage, fires, explosions or damage.

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cypicturelady June 27 2014 at 10:15 AM

By all means, let's finish the Keystone pipeline so we can have all this excitement here in the U.S.!

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1 reply
michaelawspn cypicturelady June 27 2014 at 10:47 AM

Yea...keep putting it on rail cars owned by Sir buffet and sir Obama can keep reaping the harvest of American dollars......You should think before opening your ignorant liberal mouth..I work pipelines and they are maintenance proper here in the USa

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dgoffnspector michaelawspn June 27 2014 at 10:59 AM

"maintenance proper"?
I have 20 years worth of experience inspecting pipelines ,and most every other type of equipment asset in the petrochemical industry, (plus power generation, chemical, pulp and paper, Dept. of Defense, etc.) and can vouch for the fact that the inspection and maintenance of the oil and gas transmission infrastructure (pipelines, pumping systems, etc.) in the US is woefully inadequate and often neglected, paricularly with regard to the oldest, most obsolete ones.

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robert June 27 2014 at 12:05 PM

This is IMPOSSIBLE. Pipelines are 100% safe. Just ask any Republican. Obama and Hillary must have done this to divert attention from BENGHAZI!!! AGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

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michaelawspn June 27 2014 at 12:07 PM

dgoffnspector. I worked all 1-3 phases of the Keystone XL as an inspector, you are very misinformed or another liberal liar...Anybody want the truth..do an internet search on it..!!!

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Marcheal Gideon June 27 2014 at 11:12 PM

What a shame.

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