The explosion, which sparked a fire, happened near Sarıkamış's Çatak village on Tuesday at around 8:30 p.m. A huge cloud of smoke curled into the sky after the incident, causing fear among nearby residents that their homes might catch fire as well. The fire was contained late into the night, however, and no casualties have been reported.
Although the cause of the explosion is not yet known, Sarıkamış district head Turan Ermiş said technical work was being carried out along the section of the gas pipeline around Sarıkamış during the day that could have led to the subsequent explosion. “We are investigating the incident to determine the exact cause of the explosion,” Ermiş told reporters.
Turkey imports 6.6 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Azerbaijan via this pipeline, around 16 percent of its total gas consumption. Prior to the suspension of service, the pipeline provided an average of around 12 million cubic meters of gas per day.
Although the gas flow via the South Caucasus Pipeline has been temporarily halted, there are no problems with the crude oil flow via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which carries Azerbaijani oil to Turkey and runs parallel to the South Caucasus Pipeline.