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November 24, 2014
Saturday, August 2, 2014

Explosion in Córdoba: one dead, seven injured

A huge column of fire was seen yesterday at the explosion’s site.

Incident was caused by an electric plant’s pipeline gas leak

Córdoba’s Emergency Commi-ttee informed yesterday that there is one casualty and seven injured people — all of them out of danger — due to a pipeline’s explosion in the Arturo Zanichelli Electric Plant, located within the limits of the city of Pilar. The fire was rapidly controlled by firefighters and Ecogas’ personnel.

The chief of Pilar’s fire-fighting unit, Carlos Gómez, told local media that “the situation is under control” after cutting the main gas supply with the help of four additional firefighting units in order to quench the 50-metres-high flames. Gómez added that plant workers were quickly evacuated from the premises, none of them were injured by the explosion.

Some passers-by driving on Provincial Route 13 were hit by the explosion’s blast, suffering minor burns. Civil Defence announced that a body was found inside of an almost-disintegrated Toyota Hilux truck, constituting the only casualty.

Minister of Provincial Health Francisco Fortuna stated yesterday that one of the patients being treated at Córdoba’s Burns Hospital was a 51 years-old woman identified as María López, who suffered burns in 33 percent of her body. Though seven people suffered injuries from the explosion, only two of them were actually hospitalized.

The explosion took place in a main gas-pipeline operated by Transportadora de Gas del Norte. Osvaldo Simone — head of Córdoba’s Provincial Energy Company (EPEC) — claimed that the explosion occurred due to a gas leak in one of the main lines that feed the energy turbines.

The incident led to power outages in different areas of the province, including some neighbourhoods of the capital.

The city of Pilar — with a population of 17,000 inhabitants — is located within the district of Río Segundo. The district’s prosecutor Gabriel Griffin started an investigation in order to further clarify the reasons for the explosion. He was accompanied by provincial governor José Manuel de la Sota.

The Arturo Zanichelli Electric Plant had its share of controversy last year when Civic Front’s leader Luis Juez presented a lawsuit claiming irregular manoeuvres in the revamping of the plant. The objective of the project was to enhance the energy supply of the province in the context of the National Federal Energy Plan’s aims. According to Juez — who pinpointed the current governor Juan Manuel de la Sota; former governor Juan Schiaretti; ANSeS’ Diego Bossio and EPEC’s former chairman Daniel Bonetto as culprits — the alleged “revamping” of the electric plant (for which a loan of US$300 millions was granted by ANSeS) left EPEC with a monumental debt of US$565 millions, to be bought again — via bonds — by ANSeS. Juez states several irregularities during the lawsuit, such as an initial loan’s expenditure that was not accounted for; usurious interests rates and the inexistence of a call for tenders, among others.

Herald staff with agencies

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