Lithuania gas pipeline explodes, nearby village evacuated – DW – 13/01/2023

A gas pipeline in northern Lithuania exploded on Friday, local authorities said.

“At around 5pm (1900 GMT), an explosion occurred on the Amber Grid gas pipeline in the Pasvalys district. According to preliminary data, no one was injured,” Amber Grid said in an online statement.

“The explosion occurred outside the residential buildings,” the statement said.

The fire brigade manages to extinguish the fire

Amber Grid said there are two parallel pipelines in the area, with the company saying: “The first data indicates that the explosion occurred in one of them. The other pipeline was not damaged.”

According to the Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT, the flames rose about 50 meters into the air.

The fire service was on site to extinguish the flames. Amber Grid later said the fire was out.

Nemunas Biknius, CEO of Amber Grid, said that while an investigation had already been launched, the incident was not considered suspicious.

Lithuania is investigating

Lithuanian authorities are now investigating the explosion, the cause of which is still unclear. LRT reported that a local village of 250 people was evacuated.

The gas pipeline connects Lithuania with neighboring Latvia.

“We plan to restore the gas supply in a few hours, in similar quantities,” Biknius told reporters. “We intend that customers will not feel any impact from this event.”

According to the Latvian Energy Minister, Raimonds Cudars, the natural gas supply to Latvia is currently not affected.

In June 2022, Lithuania banned gas imports from Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

A month earlier, the Baltic state had built a pipeline that connected the country, along with Latvia and Estonia, to the European gas network via Poland.

Meanwhile, January 13 is Freedom Defenders Day in Lithuania. On this day in 1991, Soviet soldiers fired on Lithuanian civilians shortly after the Baltic country gained independence from the bloc, killing 14 people in Vilnius.

wd, ss/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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