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Disasters

Deadly blast at Venezuela oil refinery

An explosion at one of Venezuela's largest oil refineries has killed several workers and injured dozens more. Local officials say the situation has been brought under control.

An apparent propane gas leak caused a massive explosion at an oil refinery in northwest Venezuela early Saturday, injuring more than 50 people, according to local authorities. News agencies estimated that the blast killed at least 39 people in the vicinity.

Venezuela's energy minister told reporters that the explosion spread beyond the complex.

Fires light up the night sky in Amuay, Venezuela after an explosion spread over the complex of one of the country's largest oil refineries

A gas leak caused a massive explosion in the early hours of Saturday morning in Amuay, Venezuela

"There is significant damage to the infrastructure and houses that stood in front of the refinery," Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez told state-controlled VTV television.

The oil refinery, located in the town of Amuay in the state of Falcon, is one of Venezuela's largest, with a capacity to produce about 645,000 barrels per day.

Both Ramirez and the local state governor told reporters that authorities had brought the situation under control.

"We are deploying our whole fire service team, all our health team, the whole contingency plan on the orders of [President Hugo] Chavez to first of all care for the people affected by this emergency," Governor Stella Lugo told Venezuelan state TV.

"There's no risk of another explosion," she said.

kms/ccp (dpa, AFP, Reuters)