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Blast hits key Ukraine gas pipeline

Gas pipeline station workers walk past the gas pressure engines in Zakarpattia region, Western Ukraine, 15 kms on border with Slovakia in Uzhgorod, May 21, 2014. AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov

KIEV: A blast hit a major Ukrainian pipeline Tuesday used to transport Russian natural gas to European clients, Ukrainian police officials said.

The Urengoi-Pomary-Uzhgorod Pipeline, also known as the Trans-Siberian Pipeline, was damaged in the northeastern Lokhvytsia region, the local police department said, adding that no one appeared to be injured in the incident.

Ukraine's state gas transport company Ukrtransgaz said the explosion did not appear to affect the westward flow of Russian gas.

State emergencies service said the explosion appeared to have resulted from either a puncture or the loss of pressure in one of the pipeline's seals.

It added that two small blasts preceded the gas leak, which produced a 30-meter flame.The 4,500-kilometer link connects gas fields with western Ukraine with Russia's western and central European clients.

The Russian section of the pipeline is operated by state energy giant Gazprom, and the Ukrainian segment by Ukrtransgaz.

Ukraine's Energy Ministry suggested Tuesday that an explosion on the main pipeline carrying Russian gas through Ukraine to the rest of Europe could have been a "terrorist attack".

"It is not the first attempted terrorist attack on the Ukrainian gas transport system," the ministry said in a statement, referring to two explosions on transit pipelines in the western part of the country in May.

 

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