Andhra Pradesh Police said the lighting of a stove by a tea vendor might have sparked today's fire in the GAIL pipeline in East Godavari district after leaked gas from the line enveloped the area.
As per initial information, there was a major gas leakage from the pipeline around 4.30 AM at Nagaram village in Mamidikuduru Mandal of the district which spread to nearby areas and lighting of a stove at a tea shop triggered the fire and a blast, IGP North Coastal Zone Atul Singh said. However, he said only after a detailed inquiry the exact cause of the incident will be known. The impact of the blast was such that a crater was created on the ground. The fire spread rapidly to the houses in the area gutting them. At least 14 persons were charred to death and 18 others injured in the fire, Singh said.
The gas supply through the pipeline has been suspended by the authorities following the incident, he said. "The fire has been doused now. Detailed investigation will be carried out in the incident... We will look into what safety measures were taken by the GAIL authorities...," the IGP told PTI.
The massive blaze, which spread to nearby houses and coconut farms, has been put off by the fire fighters, and the ONGC authorities also rushed its four fire tenders, officials said. The underground pipeline used to carry gas and crude oil extracted from offshore units up to refineries to Razole and Narsapur.