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12 May, 2009 12:22

Moscow investigates cause of massive gas explosion

Moscow’s Mayor Yuri Luzhkov made a statement on Tuesday in which he blamed the way the pipes were welded in 1976 for the spectacular gas explosion in Moscow on Sunday.

“The cause is clear,” the mayor said. On the night of the explosion I already said that a technical fault is probably the cause of the accident.”

“Now, after the prosecution finished their investigation and assessed the causes, I can fully assuredly say that the accident took place because the pipe was improperly laid in 1976,” he added.

Those who were responsible for the installation of the pipeline, its testing and diagnostics, may face criminal charges, as announced on the website of Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office on Tuesday.

A team of experts assembled by The Russian Engineering Supervision is trying to pinpoint the cause of the blast.

“At the present moment we consider several versions: a technical process of mounting a part of the pipeline; the possibility of external action by unknown persons, such as at the cable laying; and also the version of the act of terror, which seems to be unlikely at the moment,” a report by the organization says.

The Commission’s investigation may take up to two weeks, according to a source within the organization, reports Interfax.

Earlier, The Russian Engineering Supervision refused to comment on the situation surrounding the gas pipeline explosion in Moscow.

A representative of the organization, Timur Grebenkin, told RIA Novosti on Tuesday:

“We do not consider it necessary to put forward preliminary theories before establishing the final cause which would be based on facts.”

According to him, the Moscow administration of the Russian Engineering Supervision is currently working on finding out the reasons for the explosion. They are planning to analyze any recorded damage to the gas pipeline and going through the technical documents relating to the usage of gas in the affected sector.

“The leading specialists and experts in the gas field have been engaged in the investigation. We will name the final reason of the accident when the investigation is finished,” Grebenkin concluded.

The gas explosion shook Moscow around midnight on Sunday. The flames rose to nearly 300 meters into the air and it took almost 15 hours to put out the fire. Five people were wounded and over 130 cars were evacuated from the affected area.

According to Interfax, the repair works on the damaged sector of the pipeline were finished on Tuesday.