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"Flows on the Trans Austria Gas (TAG) pipeline towards Italy, the West Austria Gas pipeline to Germany and the Hungaria-Austria Gas pipeline will be restored over the next few hours", Gas Connect Austria said around 8 p.m., naming the main arteries that supply neighbouring countries from Baumgarten. "There are miles of thick, black clouds of smoke".

Squads are now searching for people in the rubble, and locals have been warned to stay away from the area.

The situation is now under control, according to the fire service, and extinguishing is now under way.

Not long after the explosion, Italy's minister for economic development, Carlo Calenda, declared a state of emergency for energy supplies.

Snam said the Austrian authorities had authorised the resumption of gas transportation operations. The facility was "shut down in a controlled state and is offline", the company said.

The ministry stated there are "no problems with supply", and that consumers are unaffected due to sufficient gas reserves in storage facilities.

One third of Russian gas exports to Europe run through Baumgarten an der March. He added that gas supplies in Slovakia had not been affected.

Slovakia's main gas transit route to Austria was suspended after the explosion, Slovak pipeline operator Eustream said.

Russia's Gazprom says it is aware of the incident and is "currently working on the redistribution of gas flows" to ensure customers remain unaffected, Ria Novosti reported. Natural gas from Russia, Norway and other countries is taken over there, measured, tested and compressed for onward transport.

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