Just Another Refinery Gas Line Explosion…
19 dead, 48 hurt in Venezuelan refinery blast
Updated 4 hours 53 minutes ago
The largest oil refinery in Venezuela was rocked on Saturday by a massive explosion that killed at least 19 people, injured 48 others and caused extensive damage, a top local official announced.
Falcon State governor Stella Lugo was quoted by the state-run agency AVN as saying the explosion had occurred at the refining facility in the town of Amuay located on the Paraguana Peninsula in north-western Venezuela.
Energy minister Rafael Ramirez said the explosion was sparked by a gas leak, the cause of which remained to be determined.
“The gas cloud exploded, igniting at least two storage tanks and other facilities at the refinery,” the minister said.
Mr Ramirez said the explosion was powerful and caused “significant damage” not only to the plant, but also to the surrounding community.
“There is significant damage to the infrastructure and houses that stood in front of the refinery,” the minister told state-controlled VTV television.
Later in the morning (local time), firefighters were able to bring the fire under control, officials said.
Before the blast, the Amuay refinery, which is the largest in the country, was able to process about 645,000 barrels of crude a day.
It forms part of the larger Paraguana Oil Refining Complex.
Venezuela is the fifth largest oil-exporting country in the world with the largest reserves of heavy crude oil at an estimated 99.4 billion barrels.