Large blast occurred in the pasvalys region of northern lithuania, near the latvian border, involving the gas pipeline operated by amber grid – lithuania’s national gas company. the explosion was reportedly visible from up to 17 km (11 miles) away, and flames rose some 50 metres (160 feet) into the air. the mayor of pasvalys district said local residents had seen some work being done near the pipeline where the explosion happened.
the blast occurred around 21:00 local time (19:00 gmt), and officials had decided to evacuate the nearby village of valakelie, which has a population of around 700 people. firefighters extinguished the flames after almost four hours. amber grid said the blast had taken place away from any residential buildings, and that gas supply to the pipeline had been cut off.
the cause of the incident is still being investigated and latvia’s defence minster artis pabriks said sabotage could not be ruled out. the pipeline had undergone some recent maintenance work, and officials will try to establish whether that had contributed to the blast. consumers in the area are being supplied by an alternate pipeline.