Update: Gas pipeline explosion on highway construction site in Romania leaves four dead, five injured
Update: Representatives of Transgaz stated that the explosion happened because "the construction contractor did not comply with the location permit provisions." They also said the contractor does not possess "the CTE permit from SNTGN Transgaz SA for the technical project of relocating/replacing the intersected gas pipeline."
According to the company, Transgaz representatives immediately went to the site, took all the necessary technical measures to extinguish the fire, isolate the natural gas transport pipeline, and eliminate safety risks. Gas suppliers or consumers were not affected, and Transgaz took all the necessary technical measures to ensure the natural gas supply to the area.
Initial story: An explosion at a gas pipeline in the Călimănești area, Vrancea county, killed four and injured five others on the night of Wednesday to Thursday. The natural gas transport mainline was fractured during work on the A7 highway construction site, resulting in sparks from mechanical work and an explosion followed by a fire.
The victims were construction workers at the Moldova Highway.
According to official sources quoted by the media, the pipeline, operated by Transgaz, was located 1.2 meters underground.
"We will need to see if the project included this pipeline, its existence, and its depth," said Nicușor Halici, the prefect of Vrancea county, cited by G4Media.ro.
Five victims were transported to CPU Adjud with burns on their bodies, and four charred bodies were found by the intervention teams on-site and declared deceased, according to Romania's Department for Emergency Situations.
A safety perimeter of approximately 500 meters around the affected area was established, and intervention teams worked on containing the fire. Firefighters managed to extinguish the fire quickly.
"As of 01:30, the Red Intervention Plan was activated at the county level in Vrancea. [...] Additionally, a warning message was transmitted in the proximity of the incident area through the RO-alert system. The Red Intervention Plan was deactivated at 3:30 a.m., and intervention teams remain active for a complete investigation of the causes and management of the consequences of this incident," DSU further reported.
The Vrancea County Police Department (IPJ Vrancea) has announced the opening of a criminal case regarding crimes of manslaughter, unintentional bodily harm, destruction, failure to take legal safety and health measures at work, and non-compliance with legal safety and health measures at work. A specialized team of officers from the Criminal Investigations Service and forensic experts are conducting on-site investigations to establish all the circumstances in which the event occurred.
"It's a human error; we are now investigating where this human error comes from. The company knew that this pipeline existed. It needs to be clarified. It doesn't seem like the depth is quite right for a mainline; based on an estimate, it's only about one meter deep," Nicușor Halici said.
The prefect also mentioned that there are 14 other crossing areas for the mainline on this section, and no further work will be carried out until the cause is identified.
According to G4Media.ro sources, Transgaz's approval issued in 2020 states that work cannot be carried out within 20 meters without completing protective or relocation work on the pipeline.
The A7 section between Focșani and Bacău, 96 kilometers long, is being built by UMB Spedition, the largest Romanian construction company, owned by businessman Dorinel Umbrărescu, according to Biziday.ro. The contract was signed last year and has summer 2025 as the deadline.
(Photo source: Facebook/ISU Vrancea)