1 killed, 21 injured in gas explosion in Austria

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Neighboring Italy's Economic Development Ministry declared an emergency after the explosion interrupted the flow of natural gas to the country, but said Italy's supply of gas would be ensured by existing stockpiles.

British homes and businesses face a potential gas crisis this winter after a ideal storm of shock outages sent prices surging just as demand for heat reached highs not seen in nearly five years.

The Austrian Red Cross told local media that 21 people were injured, one critically, in the blast at the Baumgarten gas facility around 50 kilometers (31 miles) east of the capital Vienna. Those pipelines supply Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia but also Baumgarten's biggest recipient, Italy.

The blast also prompted Italy to announce a state of emergency as the flow of gas from Russian Federation to Italy was interrupted.

The Italian wholesale day-ahead price surged 215 percent to 75 euros per megawatt-hour, its highest recorded level.

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The company said its deliveries to Austria's southeastern borders were affected by the explosion.

INEOS, which owns the 235-mile Forties Pipeline System in the North Sea, said that it was shutting down a pipeline because a leak discovered on December 6 had gotten worse.

The gas hub has been shutdown while safety checks are carried out to bring the situation under control. "We might well see some competition between Europe and Asia to attract LNG (liquid natural gas, delivered by ship) this winter". United Kingdom gas for immediate delivery soared to 90 pence (€52.38) per therm, or around €34 per MWh.

The ministry stated there are "no problems with supply", and that consumers are unaffected due to sufficient gas reserves in storage facilities.

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