A massive natural gas leak at Ballards gas field has caused an explosion, an evacuation order and the evacuation of several residents in southern Louisiana.
The leak, located in a shallow water area near the town of Ballard, occurred on Friday afternoon and was discovered by state and local officials on Saturday morning, according to the Louisiana Emergency Management Agency (LEMA).
Local residents have been advised to stay inside their homes and stay away from the area, as the gas canister exploded, triggering an explosion.
The explosion occurred in a remote section of the field near the village of Ballards, about 200km (124 miles) south of New Orleans.
The blast also caused several nearby homes to burst into flames.
An evacuation order has been issued for people in the area and the state’s Bureau of Environmental Quality (BEQ) has been informed, according the LEMA.
Residents have been told to remain indoors and to avoid the area.
The local fire department has been notified.
Residents of Ballings’ rural home district have been warned not to go out after dark due to the blast, as well as the potential for further damage to homes and businesses.
Residents who are unable to evacuate are being given priority for the evacuation order, according TOA spokesperson Ben Smith.
Residents are also being asked to not leave their vehicles overnight.
The spill comes just two weeks after the explosion at the nearby Ballard City Hall, where a gas leak caused the deaths of nine people and a large fire.