Fourteen killed in India gas pipeline blast

"It took three hours to get the flames under control", reports Natalia Anteleva

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At least 14 people have died after a pipeline carrying gas exploded in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, a senior minister has said.

Flames could be seen erupting from a pipeline of the Gas Authority of India Limited (Gail) in East Godavari district early on Friday.

At least 10 people were injured. It is not clear what caused the blast.

Gail is India's largest state-owned natural gas processing and distribution company.

The company chairman BC Tripathi told the Press Trust of India that the fire occurred in an 18-inch (46cm) pipeline of the company near a refinery run by the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Commission in Nagaram village.

"The reasons for the accident are not known yet. We are currently focused on rescue and relief operations," he said.

Andhra Pradesh Home Minister N Chinna Rajappa told BBC Hindi that "at least 14 people are dead".

Neetu Kumari Prasad, a senior official of the East Godavari district, said the fire, which has also gutted scores of houses, had been brought under control and the death toll could rise.

Federal Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told the BBC that a pipeline supplying gas to a local power plant had "ruptured" leading to the blast. The fire had affected one village, he added.

The government had ordered a "high-level probe" to find out the cause of the incident, he said.

Gail operates a 11,000km (6,840-mile) natural gas pipeline network and seven gas processing units across India. The company is also involved in petrochemicals, exploration, city gas distribution and wind and solar power.

Earlier this month, at least six people died from a poisonous gas leak following an explosion at one of India's largest steel plants in Chhattisgarh state.

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