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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

3 Killed In Refinery Blasts, Fire

KIEV-- Three people died and about 10 were injured in a series of explosions Wednesday at the Lisichansk oil refinery in eastern Ukraine, an official at the plant said.

A blocked pipe in a furnace caused five explosions and a large fire at the refinery. The dead included two firefighters and a refinery worker.

"There were a series of explosions. It took just under two hours to put out the fire," a duty officer at the plant said by telephone. "Some of the injured are in serious condition."

There was no indication of what damage had been caused.

The duty officer said the plant had been standing virtually idle because of sporadic supplies of oil from Russia.

Interfax Ukraine said the blocked pipe caused oil to leak into the furnace, triggering the explosions.

The Lisichansk refinery ranks as one of the largest in the former Soviet Union, with an annual capacity of about 24 million tons. A second facility at Kremenchuk in central Ukraine has a similar capacity.

But in the first seven months of the year, the Lisichansk refinery has handled only 3 million tons. Top officials predicted it would process between 6 and 6.5 million tons by the end of the year.