(QHA) -

Natural gas pipeline from Russia to Europe has blown up in central Ukraine sending flames hundreds of meters into the air. 

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said officials are looking into several possible reasons for the explosion of a gas pipeline but that terrorism or sabotage was one of the "key" theories.

Avakov said local residents reported hearing two small explosions just before the huge blast that ruptured the gas pipeline.

The explosion happened in Ukraine's Poltavksa Oblast that borders the eastern regions of Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk and is near the Donetsk and Luhansk regions where pro-Russian separatists have been battling Ukrainian government forces for several weeks.

The blast occurred along the Urengoy-Pomory-Uzhgorod pipeline that can transport some 29 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Russia into Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania, where it feeds into pipelines going further into Europe.

Ukraine's state-run pipeline operator Ukrtransgaz said supplies to Europe won't be affected, as the gas flow was temporarily shifted to a parallel pipeline.

photo: The Wall Street Journal