Large explosion strikes a Lithuanian gas pipeline.

In the Pasvalys region of northern Lithuania, close to the Latvian border, a massive blast has struck a gas pipeline.

Local media reported seeing flames lighting up the night sky, but authorities claim no casualties were inflicted by the explosion.

Inara Murniece, Latvia’s defense minister, stated on Twitter that sabotage could not be ruled out and that the incident’s cause would be probed.

The owner of the pipeline, however, declared that it did not think the explosion was suspicious.

Nemunas Biknius, chief executive of Amber Grid, told reporters, “According to the early evaluation, we can not find any malicious cause, but the investigation will cover all conceivable options. “We do not observe any indications of any potential external influence.”

According to Mr. Biknius, officials will try to determine whether recent maintenance work on the 1978-built pipeline may have contributed to the incident.

In the upcoming days, all causes will be looked into and clarified, according to Mr. Biknius.

He further stated that the pipeline’s gas supply had been shut off, the fire had decreased after four hours, and that authorities and experts looking into the matter had no knowledge of any deliberate damage to the pipeline.

Two parallel systems make up the pipeline, and according to Amber Grid, the explosion happened in one of them. The other wasn’t hurt at all. The explosion occurred “distance from any residential buildings,” Amber Grid continued.

Firefighters observe a fireball from a distance.
Picture source: EVN
Gintautas Geguzinskas, the mayor of Pasvalys district, told LRT that although he didn’t have any specific information on what caused the explosion, locals had told him that “they witnessed some work being done near the pipeline where the explosion occured.”

The LRT news site was able to get video showing flames soaring 50 meters (160 feet) into the air. According to reports, the explosion could be seen up to 17 kilometers (11 miles) distant.

The neighbouring village of Valakelie had been ordered to evacuate, according to the BNS news agency. The town’s population is somewhere between 700 and 800.

The flames were put out by firefighters at 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT).

Amber Grid, the national gas utility of Lithuania, uses the pipeline to transport gas to the country’s north and to feed Latvia, a neighboring country.

An alternative pipeline supplies the area’s consumers.

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