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GAIL gas pipeline accident kills at least 15 in Southern India


At least 15 people were killed in a fire that followed a blast at a GAIL India natural gas pipeline in south India, a local administrative official said.

The fire, which started early this morning, has been doused and the injured have been admitted to hospitals in the district, said B. Suguna, a government officer at Amalapuram town in Andhra Pradesh state, where the fire occurred.

The federal government has ordered an inquiry in to the cause of the fire, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters in New Delhi.

State-run GAIL has closed a section of the pipeline that was carrying gas from a field operated by Oil & Natural Gas Corp. to Lanco Infratech's power station in Andhra Pradesh state, GAIL chairman B.C. Tripathi said by phone.

The incident follows a series of accidents this month. A fire broke out at a vacuum-gasoil treating unit at a refinery operated by HPCL Mittal Energy in Punjab state on June 20. Then, six people died and 36 were injured after a gas leak at state-run Steel Authority of India's plant in Chhattisgarh state in central India on June 12, according to a company statement.

ONGC has shut some gas wells in the area, ONGC chairman Dinesh K. Sarraf said. The company’s oil refinery near the site is operating normally, he said.

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