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Explosion in Lithuania: gas pipeline to Latvia damaged

2023-01-14T11:32:49.926Z


First an explosion, then a fire: In northern Lithuania, an important gas pipeline to neighboring Latvia was damaged. The cause is apparently a technical defect, but investigators are also checking for sabotage.


Enlarge image

Gas pipeline explosion on Friday

Photo:

Paulius Zidonis / AP

Around 5 p.m. local time on Friday, an explosion occurred at a gas pipeline in northern Lithuania.

Images and videos on social media showed a 50-meter-tall blaze that could be seen from several kilometers away.

The fire brigade was able to extinguish the fire in the evening.

People were not injured, said the operating company Amber Grid.

The nearby village of Valakeliai was briefly evacuated.

Residents of other localities were asked on Friday to close the windows and stay at home.

The gas supply to the pipeline was cut off and supplies to Latvia were temporarily suspended.

The pipeline, built in 1978, transports natural gas to northern Lithuania and Latvia.

It consists of two tubes, one of which was damaged.

On Saturday, investigators tried to clarify the cause of the explosion.

According to Amber Grid, there were initially no indications of an act of sabotage.

There is currently no knowledge of intentional damage, but "all possible scenarios" are being examined, according to CEO Nemunas Biknius.

He later added: Everything points to a technical problem.

A defect in the weld seam of the pipeline may have been the cause.

The investigation will take several days.

The incident must be "carefully investigated," Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks wrote on Twitter on Friday.

"Even sabotage cannot be ruled out."

In September, the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines running through the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany were damaged by explosions.

According to the Swedish public prosecutor's office, this was serious sabotage.

Analyzes showed traces of explosives on several foreign objects discovered, prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said in a statement in November.

more on the subject

Nord Stream investigation: prosecutors confirm sabotage as cause of pipeline explosions

Russia had pumped gas from Siberia to Germany and other European countries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline until the delivery stop.

Nord Stream 2 was never commissioned because of the Russian attack on Ukraine.

Because of the attack on Ukraine, Lithuania stopped importing natural gas from Russia in April 2022.

According to the government, the country's entire gas requirements have since been covered by the liquefied gas terminal in the Baltic Sea port of Klaipėda.

Lithuania put the floating plant into operation at the beginning of 2015 in order to become less dependent on Russian gas imports.

Friday's blast came on the anniversary of an attempted invasion: On January 13, 1991, Soviet troops marched across the border to reoccupy Lithuania.

The attempt failed.

Lithuania declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990.

kgp/dpa/AFP

Source: spiegel

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