Ukraine gas pipeline hit by explosion

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An explosion has been reported on one of Ukraine's major natural gas pipelines supplying Europe.

The blast occurred at 14:20 local time (12:20 BST) on the Urenhoi-Pomary-Uzhhorod pipeline near Kiev.

It destroyed a 30-metre stretch of the pipeline but no-one was hurt in the explosion.

Gazprom, the Russian state-owned energy giant responsible for the pipeline, said there was no threat to local civilians after the explosion.

Initial fears that the blast meant Europe's gas supply had been cut off were relieved when Gazprom announced it had utilised a number of alternative pipelines traversing the eastern European state.

The European Union relies heavily on natural gas imports from Russia, a dependence some critics have said is being used by the Kremlin for geopolitical gain.

Earlier this year a dispute between Russia and Belarus saw energy supplies to Germany and Poland temporarily halted.

The spat centred on Belarus raising its transit fees after Russia's Gazprom raised the price it charged Belarus, claiming the small state was illegally tapping oil from the pipeline.

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