January 31, 2023

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A gas pipeline between Lithuania and Latvia is blown up, but there are no signs of an attack

VILNIUS (Reuters) – An explosion occurred on Friday on a gas pipeline linking Lithuania and Latvia, but there was no immediate evidence of an attack, Lithuanian gas transport company Amber Grid said.

A video released by Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT showed a fire breaking out at the site of the explosion in Panevezys County, northern Lithuania. The chief executive of Lithuania’s pipeline network operator said the fire had been put out.

“According to the initial assessment, we do not see any malignant cause, but the investigation will cover all possible options,” Amber Grid CEO Nimonas Pycnios said at a press conference.

Gas supplies were cut off, but the chief executive said the blast had damaged one of two parallel pipelines sending gas from Lithuania to Latvia, and that Amber planned to restore supplies using the undamaged line.

“We plan to restore gas supplies within a few hours in similar quantities. We plan that customers will not feel the impact of this event,” Peknius told reporters.

Lithuania, like war-torn Ukraine, borders Russia and sits on the Baltic Sea where Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipelines to Germany were destroyed by explosions last year.

LRT reported that the flames initially rose about 50 meters (160 ft) into the air and could be seen at least 17 kilometers (11 mi) away.

The Baltic news agency BNS said there were no reports of injuries or deaths.

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Povilas Balcionas, head of the public administration in the nearby town of Pasvalles, told Reuters the flames initially burned like a “big gas flame” before dying down.

Additional reporting by Andrios Sitas; Additional reporting by Terry Solsvik; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, David Evans, and Grant McCall

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