VIENNA - A fire following an explosion at Austria's main gas transfer hub on Tuesday has been brought under control, the operator said, but Russian gas flows to Europe plunged, causing prices to soar.
An explosion occurred at the Baumgarten hub around 0745 GMT and a fire broke out, according to a police spokesman, who added that he could not confirm media reports of 60 people injured.
Police said the cause of the explosion was technical.
"A wide area has been sealed off and there are expected to be several injured," the spokesman said.
Operator Gas Connect Austria said the incident should have no effect on gas deliveries to Austria but those to Italy might be reduced.
Baumgarten is an important hub for European gas transit. Natural gas is transported to Baumgarten via Slovakia and Germany along several cross-border pipelines.
Gas flows are then delivered throughout Europe via Austria's transmission network.
Slovakia's main gas transit route to Austria was suspended after the fire at Baumgarten, Slovak pipeline operator Eustream said.
Russia's Gazprom Export said it was working on redirecting gas flows and trying to secure uninterrupted supplies to clients.
Gas prices in Europe soared on concerns about supply.
The Italian wholesale day-ahead price surged 87 percent to 44.50 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh). UK gas for immediate delivery soared 32 percent to 90 pence per therm, a level not seen since 2013.
(Reporting by Francois Murphy, Oleg Vukmanovic, Katya Golubkova, Tatiana Jancarikova; Writing by Nina Chestney; Editing by Dale Hudson) ((firstname.lastname@example.org)(+44)(0)(207 542 8071)(email@example.com))