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Gas pipeline explodes in Missouri, no injuries reported

Pipeline Construction
Pipeline Construction

(Reuters) - A 30-inch (75-cm) natural gas pipeline ruptured and exploded in Missouri just before midnight on Thursday, with no injuries or fatalities reported and no impact to customers shipping gas on the line, a spokeswoman for Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co said on Friday.

The release of natural gas occurred at approximately 11:55 p.m. on Thursday (0555 GMT) just north of the rural community of Hughesville, Missouri, forcing the evacuation of some area families as a precaution, the spokeswoman said.

The cause of the explosion was under investigation. Gas supplies have been rerouted to avoid delivery disruptions to customers.

New York Mercantile Exchange natural gas futures prices reached a five-month high of $3.939 per million British thermal units early Friday and were last trading 2.2 cents higher at $3.917 at 9:30 a.m. EST.

Initial media reports said the explosion happened overnight.

Witnesses said flames from the fire about 75 miles southeast of Kansas City could be seen from miles (km) away, according to local media reports.

Panhandle Eastern operates a 6,500-mile (10,500-km) natural gas pipeline system that supplies East Coast and Midwest markets with up to 2.8 billion cubic feet of gas per day, according to the company's website.

The Panhandle Eastern line supplies some of the largest industrial users and power plants in the Midwest with natural gas, the website said.

Panhandle is a subsidiary of Southern Union Co., which is owned by Energy Transfer Partners.

(Reporting by Jeanine Prezioso, Ian Simpson and David Sheppard; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Jim Marshall)

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