A HUGE fire has ripped through a major gas pipeline in Russia following an explosion.
But Russian experts have hinted at sabotage after claiming an accidental explosion is "impossible without external influence".
It is thought it was the main gas pipeline belonging to Gazprom Transgaz SPB that exploded – affecting up to one million people.
Thick plumes of smoke were visible for miles around the scene close to Putin's home city of St Petersburg after the blast.
Russia appears to have pointed the finger at suspected sabotage, claiming an accident is "impossible".
Gas industry Telegram channel Gaz Batyushka reported an anonymous expert source saying that "without external influence, an explosion is impossible”.
More on Russia
Putin-backed mercenaries launch vacuum bomb as 10m Ukrainians left without power
Rishi makes surprise Ukraine trip to see Zelensky who praises ‘strongest ally’
The channel said: “We agree…it is possible this was a terrorist attack.”
Emergency vehicles including ambulances were rushed to the scene, although the explosion was not close to residential areas.
Investigators and forensic specialists were also scrambled as they look to identify the cause of the blast.
One theory was that the explosion could be due to sabotage linked to the war in Ukraine.
Most read in The Sun
Fuming I'm A Celebrity fans blast 'toxic' campmate after drama last night
Ant & Dec reveal first celeb to leave the jungle after shock public vote
Jac Jossa's husband held on suspicion of GBH after brawl at birthday bash
Mum-of-22 Sue Radford starts Christmas shopping & she shares boot of goodies
Russia has deliberately targeted Ukraine’s vital energy supply lines in recent attacks which have been condemned around the world.
This week, a Swedish prosecutor said investigators had found traces of explosives at the site of the damaged Nord Stream gas pipelines, confirming sabotage had taken place.
Today's blast caused disruption to the Severnaya Thermal Power Plant, which heats hundreds of thousands of homes at a time when temperatures are around minus 5C.
One more local reported: "A gas pipe exploded in the forest.
“Our house shook, we thought it was a bomb, and the war, had come here.”
Local power supplies switched to using oil after the blast, to ensure domestic heating in the region, according to one report.
The plant provides electrical and thermal energy to factories, residential areas and public buildings in the northern part of the Vyborgsky and Kalininsky districts of St. Petersburg, as well as the settlements of Novoe Devyatkino and Murino, and the Vsevolozhsky district of the Leningrad region.
In total more than 800,000 people receive heat from the Severnaya plant.
Power officials were seeking alternative supplies at the power station near St Petersburg.
A local resident named Andrei told 47news he was at home when the explosion happened.
He said: “It hit so hard that the walls shook.
“And then there was such a sound as if you were standing at an airfield and a supersonic plane was flying over you.
Read More on The Sun
Fans all say same thing about awful World Cup fan zone food including £9 salad
I’m a teacher – I go from a 5 to a 10 when I strip off my work outfit
“You can’t get close to the very place.”
A video from the channel showed flames raging more than two hours after the blast.
Source: Read Full Article