Austria: 1 dead, 21 hurt in explosion at natural gas plant

Austria: 1 dead, 21 hurt in explosion at natural gas plant

Austria: 1 dead, 21 hurt in explosion at natural gas plant

News of the blast sent gas prices in Europe soaring on fears it would restrict supply as winter sets in.

Authorities said the explosion was triggered by a "technical cause", without providing further detail.

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Initial reports suggested up to 60 were injured - with one man dead - reports have since said the figure is closer to 18. However, "transit through Austria to the south and southeast regions is now negatively impacted", it added. The site's operator, Gas Connect Austria, also preliminarily attributed the explosion to a technical cause and took the facility offline. The facility's operator initially said all the casualties were Austrian, but later said the one with less severe injuries include employees of contractors from six other countries.

The blaze has exacerbated concerns in Europe about tight gas supply after several nuclear reactor and gas infrastructure outages and the shutdown of the Forties North Sea pipeline, during a period of high demand due to freezing temperatures.

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"Austria's natural gas supply can be covered for the foreseeable future", the company said on its website. It has been improving pipeline connections between individual member states and building up storage, and it has started buying more gas from other countries.

The export arm of Russian energy giant Gazprom said it was working to redirect gas flows to southern Europe and to avoid any interruptions in the supply.

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"The gas supply to Italian consumers will in any case be ensured by an increased gas supply from national subterranean reserves", the government said.

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