At least 14 people have been killed in a gas pipeline explosion in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, according to state officials.
The blast early on Friday sent flames shooting into the sky near Nagaram village, East Godavari district, and burned for three hours before being brought under control.
Andhra Pradesh’s home minister, N Chinna Rajappa, told the AFP news agency that 14 people had been killed, and two people were unaccounted for.
Neighbouring villages were evacuated as the fire was brought under control, Rajappa said. “The extent of damage is being assessed,” he added.
The village is the the site of a connecting station for the national gas company, Gail, while the pipeline supplied fertiliser factories, the AP news agency reported.
Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, has asked the federal oil ministry and Gail to ensure immediate relief at the scene, according a statement issued by his office.
“My thoughts with the families of those who lost their lives in the Gail pipeline fire. Prayers with the injured,” he said in a message posted on Twitter.
Nagaram residents said they had complained about the lack of maintenance of the gas pipelines, but their complaints were ignored, according to AFP.
“People are angry that Gail authorities didn’t pay heed when they complained that the pipes had become rusty,” said state finance minister, Yanamala Ramakrishnudu.