Saturday, August 25, 2012

19 Killed in Explosion at Refinery in Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela — An explosion at Venezuela’s biggest refinery early Saturday killed at least 19 people and injured more than 50 others in the deadliest disaster in years for the country’s crucial oil industry.

Balls of fire rose over the Amuay refinery, one of the largest in the world, in video posted on the Internet by residents who were nearby at the time.

Those killed included a 10-year-old boy, and at least 53 people were wounded, the governor of Falcon State, Stella Lugo, said on state television. She said firefighters had controlled the flames at the refinery, on the Paraguana Peninsula in western Venezuela, where large clouds of smoke were rising.

“The areas that had to be evacuated were evacuated,” Ms. Lugo said, according to the state-run Venezuelan News Agency. “The situation is controlled. Of course there is still a fire rising very high,” she said, but added that “specialists tell me there is no risk of another explosion.”

The blast occurred after 1 a.m. when a gas leak created a cloud that ignited, the oil minister, Rafael Ramirez, said. Some nearby houses were damaged in the blast, he said. Read More