Deadly refinery explosions cause panic in Venezuela

science | Aug 25, 2012 | By Martin Barillas


Venezuela's Ministry of Petroleum and Mining reported that a fire at the Amuay refinery is now under control. The August 25 explosion and fire caused at least 19 deaths and 53 injured, according to television reports. Among the dead is a 10 year-old boy.
Located in the northest of Venezuela, the explosion took place in the Paraguana Refining Center, which is the largest refineries in the South American country and among the largest in the world. 
Oil minister Rafael Ramirez told Venezuelan television, "We had a gas leak, the source of which we are investigating, this gas created an explosive cloud that caused fires in at least two tanks at the refinery and neighboring area. The shock wave was of considerable size, causing notable damage to some of the infrastructure and dwellings near the refinery."
Ramirez, who is also president of PDVSA - the state-operated oil company - said that refinery workers and Venezuela's armed forces are inspecting the refinery and are identifying the victims and transferring them to local hospitals. He added that "any possible change that the fire can expand has been extinguished, given that supplies to that area of the refinery have been shut down." The oil minister said, however, "Now we are going to control the fires that have been created in the seals of a nearby fuel tank near the perimetre of the gas sphere."
The Amuay refinery is located on the Paraguaná peninsula, in a northern region of Venezula. Two tanks exploded in the conflaguration, while the fire and shock wave caused significant damage to nearby homes and buildings. Governor Stella Lugo of Lara State, in which the refinery is located, said "there is still a great deal of panic among the people. the people are very frightened." Neighborhoods near the refinery have been evacuated while first responders are active throughout. Lugo added, "there is still an enormous fire" in the refinery that is burning off the petroleum products there. Even so, Lara claimed that "there is no risk" that new explosions might occur.



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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