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Two dead, hundreds evacuated after pipeline explosion in South Africa

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MARCO LONGARI, FEDERICO AMBROSINI / AFPTV / AFP -

South Africa

Two people died and hundreds evacuated after an underground pipeline in Durban caught fire forcing hundreds of local residents to flee their homes.

It is alleged the three people were involved in a botched fuel theft attempt leading to a fire outbreak that engulfed business buildings and an informal settlement.

Explosions and rapid fires broke out in the area at around 3 am Sunday morning.

Firefighters, paramedics, police and metro police responded to the scene and were able to put out the fire.

Local security company Security Force said several people suffered smoke inhalation.

The petroleum company involved known as the Transnet Pipelines National Operations Centre immediately shut down the pipeline and activated the emergency response plan.

The company claimed there has been an unprecedented spate of fuel theft incidents on its pipelines and the associated infrastructure during the last two years.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated by the South African authorities.

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