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6 Indians among 28 dead in Saudi blaze

The fire breaks out on the Haradh-Uthmaniyah gas pipeline in an oil-rich desert area of eastern Saudi Arabia.

world Updated: Nov 19, 2007 01:41 IST

Six Indians were among 28 people killed in a gas pipeline fire in an oil-rich desert area of eastern Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

"Twenty-eight people, including five employees of Aramco, died," state oil conglomerate Aramco said in a statement without giving further details or nationalities of the dead.

Indian officials in Riyadh told PTI over phone that six Indians were killed in the blaze that broke out on the Haradh-Uthmaniyah gas pipeline, 30 kilometres from a major gas processing plant at Hawiyah.

They said identity of deceased Indians could not be ascertained immediately.

Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi told reporters in Riyadh that 12 people were also missing and an unspecified number injured in the fire. The fire did not disrupt gas supplies.

"The fire broke out while contracted workers were linking a new pipe during maintenance," Aramco, which has many Indian employees, said. The fire was later brought under control.

"Necessary operational adjustments have been made to the gas system to normalise operations to ensure continuity of fuel supply," it added.

The company has also set up a high-level technical committee to investigate the incident.

The Hawiyah plant is one of the major gas processing plants in Saudi Arabia, built in the desert near the Al-Ghawar oil field, the world's largest, and south of the city of Dhahran, an oil hub.