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AKIPRESS.COM - A massive explosion on a state-owned gas pipeline running through the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has killed at least 16 people and gutted scores of houses, according to the media reports.
"At least 16 people are dead. We have recovered 13 bodies so far," state home minister N. Chinna Rajappa said on Friday after the blast near a refinery owned by the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) in East Godavari district.
A massive fire broke out after the blast, broadcaster NDTV reported. It was brought under control after two hours and gas supplies had been cut.
Most victims burned to death in the flames that reached 20 metres high, while 10 more were hospitalised, the report quoted district official Neetu Kumari Prasad as saying.
The fire spread to residential parts of Nagaram town, more than 550km northeast of state capital Hyderabad, the report said.
Site operator Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) said the fire broke out in an 18-inch pipeline near a refinery complex.
"The reasons for the accident are not known yet," the authority's chief, BC Tripathi, said. "We are currently focused on rescue and relief operations."
GAIL is India's largest state-owned natural gas processing and distribution company.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolences and said he had spoken to authorities to ensure immediate relief to those affected.