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Fuel pipeline explosion kills 11 in Colombia


14:28, December 24, 2011

BOGOTA, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) -- At least 11 people were killed, more than 80 others were injured on Friday during large fuel pipeline explosions in central Colombia, authorities said.

The explosion occurred Friday morning in the province of Risaralda, about 170 km southwest of the capital Bogota, Luz Ensueno Betancourt, mayor of Dosquebradas, said in Risaralda.

The explosion of huge magnitude occurred in the oil pipeline, she said, adding that based on the first reports, people tampering with the pipeline have caused a oil leak in Aguazul ravine, which spread further to a rural neighborhood known as Villa Carola before the strong explosion.

The pipeline, which carries gasoline and diesel, is operated by Colombia's state-owned company Ecopetrol.

The mayor said Ecopetrol's technical personnel and the region's rescue team arrived immediately at the site, and the fire that broke out after the explosion had been brought under control.

According to Risaralda's Health Secretary Javier Marulanda, most of the injured have incurred second and third degree burns. Some, including seven children, are in serious conditions and might be taken to specialized hospitals.

Mining and Energy Minister Mauricio Cardenas urged people to evacuate from the site before further explosions happened as a result of oil spill. Officials also suspect that thieves have been trying to remove fuel through one of the valves in the pipeline.

President Juan Manuel Santos expressed his condolences to the families of the victims through his Twitter account and said Ecopetrol will cover the medical expenses for those injured.


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