Explosion Hits Gas Pipeline Between Lithuania and Latvia, Forcing Evacuation
An explosion hit a pipeline connecting Latvia and Lithuania on Friday afternoon, according to local reports, sparking an evacuation of the nearby village.
Police in Panevėžys county in northern Lithuania reported that a gas pipeline caught fire at around 5pm local time on Friday, resulting in the evacuation of the nearby village of Valakėliai.
The mayor of the municipality government in the local Pasvalys district, Gintautas Gegužinskas shared images of the incident on social media, writing: “A high-pressure gas pipeline exploded in the Pasvalys district near Valakėliė. It is next to the Pasvalys – Šiauliai road. Special agencies are working.”
A report from the Lithuanian newspaper Respublika said that there have not been any people injured in the blast at the time of this reporting.
On Facebook, the local government urged citizens to remain calm and that the pipeline is being repaired, but that they should shut their windows and refrain from going outside until the fire subsides.
The explosion hit the Amber Grid pipeline which connects Lithuania with Latvia. A spokesman for the operating firm said that there has not been a reason identified for the blast, telling Reuters: “We are investigating the cause of the explosion.”
The company said that the explosion only impacted one of the two parallel running pipelines, so while the flow of gas was immediately interrupted for the impacted pipeline, the other is still operational and therefore there should not be any disruptions to gas supplies as of now.
Though there has yet to be any indication that sabotage played a role in the explosion, it comes just months after suspected foul play shut down the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the nearby Baltic Sea.
In November, Swedish investigators claimed to have discovered traces of explosive materials at the site of the leak, however, they were unable to determine who was behind the alleged attack.
While many world leaders were quick to rush to blame Russia for the attack, even The Washington Post has admitted that there seems to be no evidence to blame Moscow, noting that: “Skeptics point out that Moscow had little to gain from damaging pipelines that fed Western Europe natural gas from Russia and generated billions of dollars in annual revenue.”
Russia’s defence ministry claimed that British forces were behind the suspected sabotage of the pipeline, to which the UK said that the Kremlin was “resorting to peddling false claims of an epic scale” in order to “detract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine”.