A Massive explosion has ripped through Venezuela’s largest oil refinery, leaving at least 39 people dead which includes a 10 year old boy. 80 people were injured according to Vice President Elias Jaua.
President Hugo Chavez declared 3 days of mourning and gave his condolences to families of the victims.
Huge fire rose over the Amuay refinery, among the largest in the world for the record, in video posted on the Internet by people who were nearby at the time. Government officials pledged to restart the refinery within 2 days and said the country has plenty of fuel supplies on hand to meet its domestic needs as well as its export commitments.
The Saturday’s blast in northwestern Venezuela was caused by a leak that generated an explosive cloud of gas according to Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez. Investigators are trying to determine what caused the leak at the Amuay facility, which is part of the Paraguana refining complex.
The explosion damaged the infrastructure of the refinery and nearby houses. Most of the people who lives near the refinery were already evacuated and some of them out of fear, fled instantly.
One of the world’s largest oil exporter is Venezuela. It is a founding member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
According to OPEC, Venezuela has a refinery capacity of more than one million barrels a day. Venezuela’s oil revenues represent some 94% of the country’s export earnings, more than half of federal budget revenues and some 30% of gross domestic product.
The South American country sends a large percentage of its exports to the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Deadly explosions at pipelines and refineries have taken a toll over the years in various countries, in some instances claiming hundreds of lives.
In one deadly incident in Venezuela in 1993, a natural gas pipeline exploded beneath a highway in Las Tejerias, engulfing a passenger bus and cars. Officials said 36 people died.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who’ll be challenging Chavez in Venezuela’s Oct. 7 presidential election, expressed condolences to the victims and their families.