Natural gas explosion in US kills 5 people

February 11, 2011 03:42

ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania — A thunderous gas explosion devastated a rowhouse neighborhood late Wednesday night in Pennsylvania, killing five people, and suspicion fell on an 83-year-old cast-iron gas main.

The fiery blast was latest natural-gas disaster to raise questions about the safety of the US's aging, 2.5-million-mile network of gas and liquid pipelines.

The explosion, which flattened a pair of rowhouses and set fire to a block of homes late Wednesday night, occurred in an area where the underground gas main lacked shut-off valves. It took utility workers five hours of toil in the freezing cold to punch through ice, asphalt and concrete and seal the 12-inch (30.48-centimeter) main with foam, finally cutting off the flow of gas that fed the raging flames.

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