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Explosion Rocks Egyptian Pipeline to Israel

Flames are seen after an explosion went off at a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula, February 5, 2011, in El-Arish, setting off a massive fire

Egyptian officials say an explosion Saturday damaged a pipeline that carries gas to Jordan and Israel.

The blast at a gas terminal in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula set off a massive fire, forcing authorities to shut off the gas flow.

The Associated Press news agency quoted the head of Egypt's natural gas company, Magdy Toufik, as saying a gas leak caused the fire. But the agency said a local security official said an explosive device was detonated inside the terminal, and the regional governor, Abdel Wahab Mabrouk, said he suspected sabotage.

Jordan depends on Egyptian gas to generate 80 percent of its electricity. Jordanian officials say their country is now turning to fuel oil and diesel to keep its power stations running.

They say Jordan has enough fuel and diesel reserves to cover electricity needs for three weeks, but the switch will cost the country $4.2 million a day.

Jordanian officials say Egyptian authorities expect the halt in gas supplies to last a week, until the pipeline is repaired. A spur of the pipeline into Israel was not damaged. But Israeli officials say they have temporarily shut the extension into Israel until damage is assessed.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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