An explosion hit a gas processing plant in Russia's Ingushetia region Wednesday, killing one person and injuring several others, emergency and police officials said. The blast raised fears of a terrorist attack, but authorities said it appeared to have been an accident.
The explosion occurred at a gas processing plant in the Malgobek district, near the border with Chechnya, when workers were inside a building at the plant, Ingush Interior Ministry spokesman Nazir Yevloyev said.
Yevloyev initially called the explosion a terrorist act, but later said it was apparently an accident.
A spark from a welding torch ignited leaking gas, causing a fire that injured five people, one of them fatally, authorities said. Two of the injured were in intensive care.
The ITAR-Tass and Interfax news agencies, citing police, also reported that one person was killed and that authorities believed the blast was an accident. ITAR-Tass reported that eight were injured and Interfax put the number at seven, while Yevloyev said about 10 people were hurt.
Two people were hospitalized after the blast, said Oleg Ugnivenko, a duty officer at the Emergency Situations Ministry office for southern Russia. Ugnivenko said that the explosion could have been caused either by a bomb or by an industrial accident.
Ingushetia has been targeted in attacks by rebels based in neighboring Chechnya and in the region itself, but industrial accidents are common in Russia.