50 injured in pipeline blast in NE Iran (UPDATE)
A section of an Iranian gas pipeline has exploded near the northeastern city of Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi province, injuring at least 16 people, Press TV reported.
Iran Gas Engineering and Development Company Director Alireza Gharibi told IRNA late on Friday afternoon that the blast occurred in the Mazdavand region, 65 kilometers from Mashhad, when an excavator mistakenly struck the pipeline transporting gas from the Khangiran refinery in Sarakhs to Mashhad.
Gharibi said that the incident left 16 people injured, adding, "All the injured were transferred to a hospital in Mashhad and are receiving treatment."
He went on to say that the incident had caused no other damage.
However, the Mehr news agency - without mentioning any source - reported that two workers were killed in the explosion.
However, early on Satruday morning, IRNA reported that over 50 people had been injured in the blast.
According to uncofirmed reports, six or seven people were also killed in the incident, IRNA added.
The IGEDC director said that it took three hours to extinguish the fire, which covered an area of nearly 300 square meters.
Iran is the world's fourth-largest oil producer and also sits on the world's second-largest natural gas reserves.
A bombing on August 25, allegedly carried out by the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), forced Turkish authorities to temporarily shut down a gas pipeline in the country's eastern province of Agri, which borders Iran.
It was the second time over the course of a month that an explosion disrupted Iranian gas supplies to Turkey via the key link.
Last month, an explosion occurred at another section of the pipeline close to the eastern Turkish town of Dogubayazit, near Iran's border.