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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 November 2007, 15:59 GMT
Fire at Saudi pipeline kills 28
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At least 28 people have been killed in a fire at a gas pipeline in Saudi Arabia, according to the state oil and gas company Saudi Aramco.

The blaze broke out on a section 30km (19 miles) from the Hawiya gas plant south of Dhahran and occurred during maintenance work, the company said.

Twelve people are still missing after the blaze, which has now been put out, said Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi.

Five employees of Saudi Aramco were among the dead.

No details on the nationalities of the casualties have yet been released but diplomats quoted by Reuters news agency said most of them appeared to be "Asian workers" along with at least one Lebanese national.

"It appears to be an accident rather than an act of sabotage," one unnamed diplomat said.

A Saudi official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that terrorism could be ruled out as the cause of the fire.

Key gas plant

According to Aramco's official statement, the fire began at about 0025 on Sunday (2125 GMT Saturday) on the Haradh-Uthmania pipeline.

Mr Naimi said Saudi Arabia's oil and gas output had not been affected.

Hawiya is one of the leading gas processing plants in Saudi Arabia.

It produces 1.4 billion cubic feet (39.6 million cubic metres) of gas a day.

Aramco is undertaking projects to boost output at Hawiya, Reuters says.

Both Japanese and Italian companies are involved in work at the plant, the agency says.

SEE ALSO
Country profile: Saudi Arabia
11 Oct 07 |  Country profiles

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