Venezuela oil refinery blast 19 killed, 53 injured
Venezuela’s biggest oil refinery has been rocked by a massive explosion that has killed at least 19 people, injured 53 others and caused extensive damage.
Falcon State Governor Stella Lugo has been quoted by state-run agency AVN as saying the blast occurred early on Saturday at the refining facility in the town of Amuay on the Paraguana Peninsula in northwestern Venezuela.
“Unfortunately, there was a 10-year-old child among the dead,” she told state television.
Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said the blast was sparked by a gas leak, the cause of which remains to be determined.
“The gas cloud exploded, igniting at least two storage tanks and other facilities at the refinery,” the minister said.
Ramirez said the explosion was powerful and caused “significant damage” not only to the plant but also 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.
Later in the morning, firefighters were able to bring the fire under control, officials said.
Before the blast, the Amuay refinery, which is the country’s largest 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.