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Ghislenghien gas explosion

The gas pipe connecting Zeebrugge to the Franco-Belgian border exploded violently in an industrial zone. At 9.00 am, a violent explosion was felt several kilometres away along with the formation of a massive fire ball (200 m high and 500 m in diameter). The fire spread to a neighbouring petrol station and construction site and destroyed them.

Explosion of a major underground high-pressure natural gas pipeline. Most of the dead were police and fire-fighters responding to reports of a gas leak. Early indications suggest that the pipeline may have been damaged by construction work.

Human consequencesof the accident:
With a human toll of 24 dead, including 5 fire-fighters, 1 police officer and 5 employees killed on the spot, plus 132 injured, this accident was qualified as Belgium’s most serious industrial disaster in half a century.

The origin, causes and circumstances surrouding the accident:
An expert appraisal conducted on the pipe section ejected 150 m from the blast revealed scratch marks. This observation led investigators to focus on a potential mechanical aggression that would have weakened the pipe wall; 3 to 4 mm of material remained at the level of the scratch, thereby creating a zone of lower pressure resistance.
Based on an expert’s investigation report, the Tournai Prosecutor’s Office confirmed in July 2006 the hypothesis of "an external aggression" acting on the gas pipeline during previous earthworks held at the site.

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