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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 07:53 GMT
Java mud leak blamed for blast
People try to rescue valuable items from the flooded area
The mud leak shows no sign of stopping
At least seven people have been killed in a gas pipeline explosion near the site of a massive mud leak that has displaced thousands in Indonesia.

A number of people are still missing after the powerful blast shot flames hundreds of metres in the air near the city of Surabaya on Java island.

Officials suspect the mud's weight may have caused subsidence which led the underground pipe to break.

The authorities have been struggling for months to stop the mud leak.

Some 10,000 people have been displaced since hot mud and gas began spewing from the ground following a suspected drilling accident last May.

The district hospital said seven bodies had arrived by the early hours of Thursday, although some rescue officials put the death toll at eight.

At least two people were still missing. Most of those killed were police and military personnel.

The pipe is operated by the state-owned gas company, Pertamina. The company said the blast could affect gas supplies to customers in East Java.

The lake of mud now covers more than 400 hectares (988 acres), submerging eight villages, and shows no sign of stopping.

Workers have been trying to contain the flow with a network of dams and by channelling some of it into the sea, but the mud is believed to have caused the area to sink.




SEE ALSO
Java villages drown in mud lake
05 Oct 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia to divert mud into sea
27 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Mud flood threatens Java residents
17 Aug 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Indonesia
18 Jul 06 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Indonesia
19 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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