* Explosion heard in capital
* Yugoslav-era power plant Kosovo's second largest
* Long slated for shutdown
(Updates death, injured toll, adds quote)
By Fatos Bytyci
OBILIC, Kosovo, June 6 A hydrogen tank exploded
at Kosovo's second biggest power plant on Friday, killing two
people and injuring 14, officials said.
The 40-year-old Kosovo A plant, considered one of the worst
polluters in Europe, was shut down following the blast that was
heard in the capital, Pristina, some 10 km (6 miles) away.
The explosion threatened electricity supplies in a country
already plagued by blackouts. Power imports were increased to
"We have found two bodies," Edmond Nulleshi, a manager at
the Kosovo's Energy Corporation (KEK), told Reuters.
Local television footage showed soldiers rescuing a worker
who had been trapped in the building for more than five hours.
An investigation has been launched into the incident.
The Yugoslav-era plant and the larger Kosovo B account for
90 percent of electricity generation in the Balkan country,
which still suffers chronic power shortages 15 years after
breaking free of Serbia in a 1998-99 war during the collapse of
Costly plans to build a new plant that would allow Kosovo A
to be closed for good have been delayed for years, with some
critics blaming the government for toying with the rules of the
Kosovo's main political parties cancelled final campaign
rallies planned for Friday before a parliamentary election on
Health Minister Ferid Agani told reporters that 13 people
had been treated for injuries that he said were not
Economy Minister Fadil Ismajli, whose ministry covers the
energy sector, told Reuters that the 345 megawatt (MW) Kosovo A
had been shut down. The blast occurred in the electrolysis unit,
not the generators.
Kosovo's energy distribution and supply company, KEDS, said
it had imported 250 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity to cover
demand. Spokesman Guri Shkodra told Reuters it was unclear when
the plant would be back online.
Albania's energy ministry said it has started sending 50 MW
of electricity out of 200 MW per day demanded by Kosovo to help
it cope with shortages.
It said Albania's power utility KESH and power distributor
OST and their counterparts in Kosovo were trying secure
interconnection capacities to meet the need for the requested
Kosovo is connected to Albania via a 220 kV line. Work is
under way to build a more powerful 400 kV line.
Last year, international donors pledged 154 million euros
($209.67 million) to help close down Kosovo A, improve energy
efficiency and diversify energy sources in the landlocked Balkan
country, one of Europe's poorest.
The European Commission says the cost to decommission the
plant, which produces a quarter of electricity consumed in
Kosovo, is seen at 60 million euros, and that the commission is
ready to ask member states to fund the project.
($1 = 0.7345 euros)
(Additional reporting by Maja Zuvela in Sarajevo and Benet
Koleka in Tirana; Writing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Angus
MacSwan and David Evans)