One person has been killed and several injured in an explosion at Austria’s main gas pipeline hub, ORF news outlet reports. Fire engines, ambulances, and a rescue helicopter have reportedly been deployed to the area, and all work has been halted at the site.
Several media outlets put the number of people injured at around 60, while ORF reported 18.
Gas Connect Austria, which works in partnership with OMV Group, has stated that one person is missing and 12 others injured, while Austrian police have denied that anyone was killed in the blast.
“An explosion occurred at 8:45am (local time), followed by a fire. Things are under control but according to preliminary reports there are several people injured,” police spokesman Edmund Tragschitz told AFP.
The blast occurred near Baumgarten, Gaenserndorf district. The underground pipeline belongs to the Vienna-based OMV group, which has confirmed that there was a gas explosion at the site.
“The [explosion] has created a fire,” Fire Brigade spokesman Franz Resperger said, as quoted by ORF. “There are miles of thick, black clouds of smoke.”
“Due to the enormous heat… cars are melted in the parking lot,” Resperger said.
Police have cordoned off the site and are asking people to avoid the area.
A total of 14 fire engines with more than 150 personnel are at the site, along with 10 ambulances, two emergency physicians, and a rescue helicopter, according to ORF.
“The fire brigade, the rescue service and the police have been set up in coordinated coordination with the district headquarters, the Red Cross and the state police headquarters, with the focus now on rescue… the police helicopter is in action to provide a comprehensive picture of the situation,” Lower Austrian Provincial Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner said, as quoted by Heute.
All work has been halted at the site, which has been completely shut down, according to Gas Connect Austria. Authorities have confirmed that a technical malfunction caused the explosion.
Russia’s Gazprom says it is aware of the incident and is “currently working on the redistribution of gas flows” to ensure customers remain unaffected, Ria Novosti reported.
The Baumgarten gas hub is one of Europe’s most important distribution points for natural gas. It handles some 40 billion cubic meters from Russia, Norway, and other countries per year, Deutsche Welle reported.