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Colombia: Fuel pipeline explodes killing 11

Last Updated: Friday, December 23, 2011 - 23:42

Bogota: A fuel pipeline exploded in Colombia
on Friday, killing at least 11 people, injuring dozens and
destroying homes.

The explosion occurred in the central province of
Risaralda, located about 170 kilometres southwest of the
capital of Bogota, said local emergency management official
Carlos Mario Garcia.

At least 11 people were killed and about 45 others were
injured in the explosion before dawn, said Garcia, who was at
the site of the blast.

A fire that broke out after the explosion had been
brought under control, Garcia said.

The pipeline, which carries gasoline and diesel, is
operated by national oil company Ecopetrol.

Officials suspect that thieves had been trying to remove
fuel through one of the valves in the pipeline, Mines and
Energy Minister Mauricio Cardenas said.

Cardenas later told reporters at the blast site that
officials were investigating to pinpoint the cause.

Garcia said by telephone that people had been evacuated
from nearby homes. He said at least 30 homes were damaged or

Images on Colombian television showed some of the houses
destroyed by the blast and other homes with charred walls. The
waters of a nearby stream were flaming with some of the
spilled fuel.

Police officer Juan Pablo Munoz, who works elsewhere in the country but was visiting family for Christmas, said he was
jolted out of bed by the explosion.

"I smelled a strong odour of gasoline," the 21-year-old
said by phone. "I went out into the street. I walked at least
10 steps and I saw that everything around me was destroyed."


First Published: Friday, December 23, 2011 - 21:59
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