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Texas natural gas pipeline blast kills one

HOUSTON (Reuters) - One worker died and seven were injured on Monday when digging to set power line poles punctured a natural gas pipeline, triggering an explosion, officials said.

Officials initially said three people died and as many as 10 were missing in the mid-afternoon blast in a rural area about 25 miles south of Fort Worth, Texas.

Hood County Emergency Management Coordinator Brian Fine provided the final count late on Monday and said confusion at the scene led to conflicting reports.

A crew building a power line for Brazos Electric Cooperative punctured a 36-inch pipeline owned by Enterprise Products, triggering a blast and fire, officials said.

"They were drilling holes to put up power lines when they struck the gas line," said Trooper Dub Gillum of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The survivors had enough warning of the leak that they were able to escape the explosion and the inferno that took two hours to go out after Enterprise shut off the line, officials said.

Six workers were taken to the Glen Rose Medical Center in Glen Rose, Texas, by private vehicle, most suffering burns, Fine said, adding that four were released by late Monday night.

Another worker was taken by helicopter from the scene with a head injury, Fine said, but he did not know which hospital received the man and did not know his condition.

Six workers escaped with minor or no injuries, Fine said.

One energy analyst said the gas pipeline blast could feed jitters about energy supply because the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had prompted government limits on drilling.

"The explosion comes at a time when uncertainty surrounds future drilling activities amid a moratorium that the government has imposed," said Phil Flynn, analyst with PFGBest Research in Chicago.

Gulf of Mexico gas production is falling and hurricane forecasts have made ominous predictions about a busy storm season that could threaten production, Flynn said.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba, Bruce Nichols, Eileen O'Grady and Kristen Hays in Houston and Gene Ramos in New York)

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