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Aussies Rejoice As Gas Cutoff Ends

October 8, 1998

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) _ Millions of Australians deprived of hot water by a 13-day natural gas shortage in Victoria state celebrated Thursday by turning on their gas again and enjoying steamy showers.

An explosion on Sept. 25 and fires that took two days to quench damaged the Esso Corp.’s refinery at Longford, which supplies 98 percent of Victoria’s gas demand.

Esso has not yet determined the cause of the disaster, which killed two workers and injured eight.

Gas flow to all businesses and industry was restored Wednesday, and gas distributor VENCorp began to restore service to 1.4 million households Thursday in what it called the world’s biggest reconnection of gas.

The crisis cost $58 million a day, with 150,000 workers temporarily idled. Employees in many industries shut down by the crisis went back to work Tuesday and Wednesday.

Callers to radio station 3AW expressed their gratitude for the hot water.

``I’ve just rung to say we’ve got gas and my 85-year-old grandmother can now have a nice hot shower, instead of me holding the watering can,″ a woman said.

Victoria state is south of New South Wales, and Melbourne is about 450 miles southwest of Sydney.

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