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Colonial pipeline explodes in Alabama

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World Pipelines,

At least five workers have been injured and one killed as a result of an explosion that occurred along the Colonial Pipeline in rural Alabama, according to authorities and news sources.

The explosion sent flames soaring over the surrounding forest approximately a mile west of where the pipeline burst and leaked thousands of gallons of gasoline in September, a rupture that led to gasoline shortages across south USA.

A track hoe – a machine used to remove dirt – struck the pipeline, Colonial Pipeline said in a more detailed update released yesterday evening. Gasoline was then ignited and caused the blaze, the company said.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley stated: "We'll just hope and pray for the best.” He added that a nine-man crew had been conducting work on the Colonial pipeline, which had been undergoing maintenance when the explosion occurred.

Colonial announced that emergency crews and company personnel were responding to the blast. The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) also said personnel were en route.

The fire was contained around 9 pm EST (1 am GMT) on Monday 31 October. Coleen Vansant, a spokeswoman for the Alabama Forestry Commission, told the Associated Press that crews built a 75 ft dam to contain the burning fuel, which will be allowed to burn itself out.

People within three miles of the blast site were being evacuated, Bentley said.

In a statement following this, Colonial Pipeline Company noted that one worker was killed at the scene and five others were taken to local hospitals for treatment. The company also stated that it had shut down its main pipeline in the area and distillated pipelines following the incident.

The company's decision to shut the pipeline led gasoline prices in New York to jump, highlighted the International Business Times. It stated: “Bloomberg reported that the fuel's premium to Brent crude soared to as high as US$18/bbl.

The 5500 mile (8850 km) Colonial pipeline is the largest in the US. According to PHMSA data, the pipeline has experienced five spills in Alabama in 2016.

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