One dead and 18 injured after blaze tears through Baumgarten gas hub, plunging Europe into energy crisis
Snow-hit southern Europe could face energy shortages after authorities warned that Austrian pipelines were likely to be out of action for days following an explosion and fire that ripped through a main gas hub near Vienna.
Baumgarten, where the explosion occurred, is a key distribution and reception hub for gas exports and imports, including from Russia, Europes biggest gas supplier. In Italy, where rain, snow and extreme cold weather have disrupted traffic in the north-east over the last few days, the countrys industry minister declared a state of emergency due to a lack of gas supplies.
One person was killed and 18 injured in the blast on Tuesday. One of the casualties was airlifted to Viennas general hospital with serious injuries but was later confirmed to be in a non-critical condition.
A police spokesman said: There was an explosion around 8.45am and a fire. A wide area has been sealed off and there are expected to be several injured.
In Britain, Europes biggest gas market, gas for immediate delivery rose 35% to 92p per therm, its highest level for four years.
Austrian police said the explosion in Baumgarten, which is north-east of Vienna, had been caused by a technical problem. Fire services worked until the early afternoon to put out fires started by the blast. The chassis of several cars parked on the site were melted by the heat of the explosion.
Natural gas is transported to Baumgarten through Slovakia and Germany along several pipelines. Gas flows are then delivered throughout Europe via Austrias transmission network.