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Italy calls gas emergency after Austria blast

MILAN (AFP) - 

Italy declared a state of emergency for its gas sector Tuesday after supplies were disrupted by a deadly blast at one Europe's biggest pipeline hubs in neighbouring Austria.

However, the government said it would balance out the shortage in imports with Italian reserves.

"This morning, the gas flow from Russia was interrupted in Austria following a fire in the network run by operator Gas Connect," the Italian government said in a statement.

"The gas supply to Italian consumers will in any case be ensured by an increased gas supply from national subterranean reserves," the government said.

Authorities "are monitoring the situation with the operators to assess how long it will take for the supplies to start flowing again," it added.

One person died and 18 were injured in the blaze at the Baumgarten site some 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Vienna, near the Slovak border.

Austrian police said the incident was caused by a "technical" issue and local authorities had begun an investigation.

The Baumgarten site is Austria's largest reception point for gas, the end-point for a number of pipelines bringing it in from Russia, Norway and elsewhere.

© 2017 AFP