Huge Gas Blast Rocks Egypt

Fire quickly contained, but some suspect sabotage

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Feb 5, 2011 7:46 AM CST

(Newser) – An explosion rocked a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula today, setting off a massive fire that was contained by shutting off the flow of gas to neighboring Jordan and Egypt, officials and witnesses said. Egypt's natural gas company said the fire was caused by a gas leak. However, a local security official said an explosive device was detonated inside the terminal, and the regional governor, Abdel Wahab Mabrouk, said he suspected sabotage.

The blast and fire at the gas terminal in the Sinai town of El-Arish did not cause casualties. The explosion sent a pillar of flames leaping into the sky, but was a safe distance from the nearest homes, said Mabrouk. The terminal is part of a pipeline system that transports gas from Egypt's Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea to Israel, Syria, and Jordan. Jordan depends on Egyptian gas to generate 80% of its electricity.

A fire is seen after an explosion at a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula on Saturday Feb. 5, 2011, setting off a massive fire along a gas pipeline that could be seen miles away.
A fire is seen after an explosion at a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula on Saturday Feb. 5, 2011, setting off a massive fire along a gas pipeline that could be seen miles away.   ((AP Photo/APTN))
Flames are seen after an explosion went off at a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011 in El-Arish, setting off a massive fire. No injuries were reported, and the blaze was quickly brought under control after the gas flow was shut off.
Flames are seen after an explosion went off at a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011 in El-Arish, setting off a massive fire. No injuries were reported, and the...   (Ashraf Swailem)
Flames are seen after an explosion went off at a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011 in El-Arish, setting off a massive fire. No injuries were reported, and the blaze was quickly brought under control after the gas flow was shut off.
Flames are seen after an explosion went off at a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011 in El-Arish, setting off a massive fire. No injuries were reported, and the...   (Ashraf Swailem)
Flames are seen after an explosion at a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011, setting off a massive fire. The blaze was quickly brought under control.
Flames are seen after an explosion at a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011, setting off a massive fire. The blaze was quickly brought under control.   (Ashraf Swailem)
In this image taken from Associated Press Television News video, a fire is seen after an explosion went off at a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula on Saturday Feb. 5, 2011, setting off a massive fire along a gas pipeline that could be seen dozens of miles away,...
In this image taken from Associated Press Television News video, a fire is seen after an explosion went off at a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula on Saturday Feb. 5, 2011, setting off...   ((AP Photo/APTN))
Flames are seen after an explosion went off at a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011 in El-Arish, setting off a massive fire. No injuries were reported, and the blaze was quickly brought under control after the gas flow was shut off.
Flames are seen after an explosion went off at a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011 in El-Arish, setting off a massive fire. No injuries were reported, and the...   (Ashraf Swailem)
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