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Updated: June 8, 2010 19:20 IST

Blast in Texas gas line: one feared dead, eight injured

DPA
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column of fire ascends into the air from a natural gas line in Cleburn, Texas, on Monday. Photo: AP.
column of fire ascends into the air from a natural gas line in Cleburn, Texas, on Monday. Photo: AP.

A natural gas line exploded on Monday in north- eastern Texas as a utility crew installing poles for electrical lines was working, leaving one worker missing and eight injured, according to local officials.

Residents at least eight km from the scene told the Dallas Morning News that they felt the blast, which sent up towering flames visible for tens of kilometres across the Texas prairie. The fire blazed for more than two hours before the high-pressure gas line could be shut off.

The missing worker, who was feared dead, had been operating a machine that drilled holes for poles to carry power lines.

Speculation immediately focused on whether the utility crew had punctured the buried gas line.

Four of the eight people hospitalised had been treated and released by late Monday, Johnson County Sheriff Bob Alford told the Dallas paper.

"It was a digger that digs a hole for a power pole," Fire Chief Clint Ishmael from the nearby town of Cleburne told the paper.

"It’s an auger for a high-transmission power line, and that’s what they were working on, and they drilled into a (91-centimetre) high-pressure natural gas line. Something went terribly wrong, and they actually did drill into the pipe."

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