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Page last updated at 04:35 GMT, Sunday, 10 May 2009 05:35 UK

Gas blast causes fire in Moscow

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The blaze lit up the night sky in Moscow

A gas pipeline has exploded in the Russian capital, Moscow, sending flames 100m (300ft) high into the air and setting fire to a nearby building.

Several people are reported to have been injured. More than 30 fire-fighting teams were sent to the scene, in the south-west of the city.

The authorities have shut off the gas supply to the area and are investigating the cause of the blast.

Ageing pipelines have been blamed for recent gas explosions in Russia.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who visited the scene, said the rupture had almost certainly been caused by a technical problem such as a sudden leap in pressure.

Itar-Tass news agency reported him as saying that five people had been injured, and four of these had been taken to hospital.

No-one was reported to have been killed.

Officials said it was the worst fire of its kind in Moscow for decades. Some buildings were evacuated and traffic stopped, reports said.

As the flames climbed high above surrounding buildings crowds who had been celebrating Victory Day - which commemorates the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II - gathered to watch.

Early on Sunday local authorities said the flames were dying down but would take several hours to extinguish.



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