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German village evacuated after major gas explosion

30 September 2013

The 3,000 residents of Harthausen near Ludwigshafen in central Germany had to leave their homes on September 28 after a gas tank exploded at the local Gas Trans company, a police spokesman said. The explosion injured 16 firefighters, shattered windows and caused a blast that could be heard 30 kilometres away.

A blaze at the company was reported before dawn, and while firefighters were trying to douse the flames, the fire spread to a truck with a gas tank, which then exploded. The threat of further explosions led to the evacuation order, and residents were allowed to return home 24 hours later.

The spokesman said one of the injured firefighters was in critical condition while most of the others were treated at surrounding hospitals for burns and smoke inhalation.

Two other gas tanks were catapulted onto a nearby field and an empty storage building by the blast wave. 

At least a dozen buildings in the town were damaged as a result of the pressure wave. Police estimated that the blast caused millions of euros' worth of damage.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but news agencies are reporting that investigators were looking at arson as one possible reason for the fire.

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