Home>News Center>World

Sabotage causes Russia gas explosion
Updated: 2004-12-10 09:47

An explosion that ripped through the main gas pipeline in the southern Russian region of Dagestan was caused by sabotage, and prosecutors are investigating it as terrorism, the regional Interior Ministry said Thursday.

The Wednesday night blast was the fourth this year along the Dagestani section of the Mozdok-Gazimagomed pipeline, which together with its arteries stretches 750 miles.

One stretch of the pipeline, which spans the Terek River separating Dagestan from the war-shattered region of Chechnya, has been blown open at least three times since 1996, said Ullubiy Erbolatov, a spokesman for the regional natural gas company.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion, which sent flames shooting into the night sky, but Chechen rebel leaders previously have threatened and been blamed for attacks against pipelines, electricity towers and other infrastructure in Russia.

"Closer to the fire, there were 10 or 15 people," a bearded man named Abdurakhim, still agitated after the blast, said on Rossiya television.

"There was an explosion, and all I could do was cover myself, and I somersaulted away downhill," he said, showing how he lifted his jacket over his head to shield himself from the flames.

Two firefighters were injured as they responded to the blaze that broke out at around 10 p.m. Wednesday, less than a mile west of the capital Makhachkala, said Murtazali Gadzhiyev, Dagestan's regional emergency situations minister.

A second explosion occurred about 25 minutes after the fire broke out, said Sergei Kozhemyak, a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry's southern branch.

Nineteen bystanders were hospitalized with burns, said Magomed Omarov, Dagestan's deputy interior minister.

There were no houses nearby but Dagestan's main highway, was 660 feet from the blast site and traffic was interrupted for several hours, Gadzhiyev said.

Investigators initially attributed the explosion to a technical accident, but Omarov said it was now blamed on terrorism, according to preliminary information.

Erbolatov, of the regional gas company, said he found evidence of tampering with the pipeline, but a final conclusion could be reached only by the Federal Security Service, which has launched an investigation.

Wednesday's explosion left several districts of Dagestan and the neighboring Caspian Sea nation of Azerbaijan without gas, Russian media reported.

The state-controlled Gazprom natural gas company promised to restore supplies within a day.

Makhachkala is located about 1,000 miles south of Moscow.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Market recognition benefits China-EU partnership



Foreign trade tops US$1 trillion



Polluting steel plants moving out of Beijing



Government aims to fatten farmers' wallets



Industrial output slows down mildly



Oil firm chief in Singapore free on bail


  Shiites list candidates for Iraq election
  Sharon wins key vote on alliance for Gaza plan
  Bush, Rumsfeld try to soothe angry US troops
  Militant chief wounded in Israeli strike in Gaza
  Karzai urges Afghans to quit trading opium
  Europe urged to help NATO more in Iraq
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Gas pipeline explodes in southern Russia
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?