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Suspended sentences after deadly Austria gas explosion

Four employees were given suspended sentences for negligence on Wednesday over an Austrian gas terminal explosion that killed one and injured 22 others in 2017.

Gavel PHOTO:Getty Images

Four employees were given suspended sentences for negligence on Wednesday over an Austrian gas terminal explosion that killed one and injured 22 others in 2017.

They were “found guilty of negligently causing the explosion by failing to comply with their safety obligations”, a regional court in Korneuburg announced in a statement.

A subcontracting company was also fined 125,000 euros ($132,000) and handed a suspended sentence.

It follows 18 days of hearings into the blast and fire at the Baumgarten terminal, near the Slovak border, on December 12, 2017.

The disaster took place a day after the installation of a new tank.

Mistakes were made by subcontractor Bilfinger Bohr & Rohrtechnik when a piece of gas piping equipment was dismantled at another site in Austria, according to the public prosecutor’s office.

It malfunctioned when it was reinstalled at Baumgarten — gas escaped under high pressure and caused the explosion.

The 32-year-old technician who died was responsible for ensuring it was working properly.

The four employees were given ten-month suspended sentences, and the other eight people prosecuted were acquitted.

It was not made clear whether those convicted intended to appeal.

Three of the injured received a symbolic compensation payment of 600 euros ($632) each and the family of the victim will be reimbursed for funeral expenses.

Baumgarten is one of Central Europe’s main distribution centres for gas arriving from Russia.

The accident disrupted supplies to several countries and caused material damage of €50 million.

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