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Italy declares state of emergency after Austria Gas Plant explosion


Rome –  Italy’s Industry Ministry declared state of emergency on Tuesday after a deadly explosion at a gas plant in Austria interrupted the flow of gas from Russia to Italy.

At least one person was reported killed and dozens injured in the explosion and subsequent fire in a natural gas facility in Baumgarten an der March near Austria’s border with Slovakia, local and international media reported.

“This morning, the flow of gas from Russia was interrupted in Austria due to fire that broke out at the section of network managed by Gas Connect operator,’’ the Italian Industry Ministry said in a statement.

It added that “consequently, operations at the gas pipeline that connects the Baumgarten junction to the entry at Tarvisio into the Italian national network has been suspended.

“Based on European regulations and the National Emergency Plan, the ministry has declared state of emergency.’’

The Trans Austria Gas (TAG) pipeline ending in the town of Tarvisio, in Italy’s northern Friuli region, supplies about 30 per cent of the Mediterranean country’s gas, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

The Italian ministry added that the nation’s needs would be covered by stockpiles for the duration of the emergency, so consumers would not be affected.

It is not clear what caused the explosion, but a technical malfunction is a possibility, sources at Gas Connect Austria told ANSA.

Italy imports most of its natural gas, with the TAG pipeline bringing in 107 million cubic meters a day.

The rest of its supplies are brought in via the TRANSITGAS pipeline from northern Europe, the Trans Tunisian Pipeline Company, and the Greenstream pipeline from Libya.

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) connecting Greece to Italy via Albania is under construction, according to the Industry Ministry. (Xinhua/NAN)

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