The blast took place at 5:30 am in a pipeline owned by the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) in East Godavari district. The 18-inch diameter pipeline supplies gas to a power plant operated by Lanco Infratech Ltd.
Reports suggest the number of dead could rise. “We have recovered 13 bodies so far,” said Andhra Pradesh’s Home Minister N. Chinna Rajappa.
10 people have been severely burnt and are being treated at a local hospital.The victims were local residents. The fire caused by the blast had been brought under control by around 7:30 am, said officials.
Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has ordered a high-level probe into the incident.
There is speculation that the pipe was old and rusted, which caused a gas leak.
State Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said, “People are angry that GAIL authorities didn’t pay heed when they complained the pipes being rusted and gas leaks.”
ONGC, the government-controlled oil company, has shut down its gasfield, just 50 kms away, after the fire at the pipeline.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the union Oil Minister and GAIL chairman to ensure immediate relief at the scene, according a statement issued by his office.
The state government has ordered an inquiry and will set an action plan to avoid similar accidents in future, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said in a tweet.
The huge flames leaping out of the pipeline gutted scores of houses and shops near the blast site. Villagers ran out of their houses in panic as the fire accompanied by loud blasts engulfed a large area.