One killed, 12 injured in Boston gas explosion

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Boston gas

One person has been killed and 12 others injured after series of explosions, said to be triggered by a natural gas pipeline rupture, rocked three communities near Boston, USA.

The incident has prompted the evacuation of hundreds, officials said.

The blasts left dozens of homes and other buildings demolished or engulfed in flames as firefighters from some 50 departments raced for hours from one blaze to another.

Utility crews rushed to shut off gas and electricity in the area to prevent further ignitions.

Police drove up and down streets with bull horns telling residents to vacate their homes immediately.

Officials said that between 60 and 80 fires and a number of explosions broke out in homes and businesses in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover that are located approximately 30 miles (45km) north of Boston.

Witness accounts suggest the incidents began at about 16:30 local time (20:30 GMT).

The Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, described it as a “public safety event” in the early hours of Friday, but said officials were now “confident” there would be no further fires.

Fire investigators suspected “over-pressurization of a gas main” belonging to Columbia Gas of Massachusetts led to the series of explosions and fires, Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield told a news conference.

Columbia Gas, a unit of the utility giant NiSource Inc (NI.N), announced earlier on Thursday that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighborhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions occurred.

However, it was not immediately known whether any work was being done in those communities at the time.

Columbia Gas is investigating what happened on its system today,” NiSource spokesman Ken Stammen said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said it was sending a team to support the state’s emergency response efforts.

Mr Mansfield said investigators suspected the fires were caused by “over-pressurisation of a gas main” belonging to Columbia Gas lines.