1 Dead, 12 Injured And Hundreds Forced To Evacuate After 70 Gas Explosions In Boston

| September 14 , 2018 , 11:59 IST

At least 1 person has been killed, 12 injured and hundreds forced to evacuate from 3 communities near US state Massachusetts's capital Boston on Friday, as 70 explosions took place due to a natural gas pipeline rupture.

Lawrence General Hospital said that it received 13 patients for injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to blast trauma. One of the patients was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston in critical condition but succumbed.

The Massachusetts State Police said that a total of 70 fires, explosions or investigations of gas odour had been reported.

The blasts resulted dozens of homes and other buildings becoming demolished or engulfed in flames as fire fighters from 50 departments raced from one blaze to another and utility crews rushed to shut off gas and electricity in the area to prevent further blasts.

According to fire investigators, they suspect that the "over-pressurization of a gas main" belonging to Columbia Gas of Massachusetts led to the series of explosions and fires in North Andover, Andover and Lawrence, Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said to media.

State police urged residents that were served by Columbia Gas to evacuate their homes and even those not being Columbia Gas customers in the southern part of the city were asked to leave their homes due to planned power cuts.

The US Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said that it was sending a team to support the emergency response efforts.

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The former head of the agency, Brigham McCown, called the series of gas explosions "unprecedented, at least in recent memory."

"I can't think of a series of natural gas-related incidents like this," McCown said.

Nearly 6 years ago, Columbia Gas had accepted blame for a gas explosion in Springfield, Massachusetts that injured 17 people and damaged property worth $1.3 million when one of its technicians accidentally punctured a line while investigating a gas odour.

Gas utilities have come under the radar in recent years for an aging network of pipelines which critics say are not properly inspected and maintained, posing a risk to public safety.