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A natural gas pipeline exploded in southwestern Moscow early Sunday, the Emergency Services Ministry said, sending flames soaring more than 100 meters (yards) into the sky.
Yevgeny Bobylyov, Emergency Services Ministry spokesman, said the pipeline exploded shortly after midnight and that a three-story building caught fire.
The flames lit up the low clouds and were visible from rooftops around the city.
Russian news agencies reported that at least three people were being treated for burns.
The Vesti-24 television channel carried live pictures of the fire and reported that parked cars were being removed within a radius of half a kilometer (550 yards) of the fire.
Residential buildings near the fire were also being evacuated, news agencies reported. The blast occurred near a gasoline station, they said.
from RIA Novosti
A fire that broke out after a natural gas pipeline exploded in southwest Moscow early on Sunday has been localized, with no casualties reported, the Russian Emergencies Ministry said.
The pipeline exploded shortly after Victory Day celebrations, sending flames 100-300 meters into the air. Five people were treated for burns and some 30 cars were damaged by the blaze, the ministry said.
A police source earlier told RIA Novosti that the pipeline could have been damaged intentionally. He added that bomb experts of the Russian Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service would start investigating causes of the explosion as soon as the fire is extinguished completely.
Meanwhile, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov who arrived at the site of the explosion said the incident was of technogenic nature. It was acknowledged Moscow’s largest fire since World War II.
Some 100,000 telephone users were left without telephone and Internet communication, after the fire destroyed or damaged telephone cables, the Russian Emergencies Ministry said.