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Refinery blast in Venezula

Deadly blast kills 24, 82 injured

CARACAS, Venezuela | August 25, 2012

An explosion at a Venezuelan oil refinery Saturday morning killed 24 people and injured 82 others, officials said.

The explosion happened at 9:30 a.m. at the Amuay refinery in the northwestern Falcon state, El Universal reported.

Those injured have been taken to local hospitals.

Vice President Elias Jaua said a fire that resulted from the explosion has been controlled.

"We will inspect the situation with the technical teams," Jaua said.

Minister for Oil and Mining Rafael Ramirez said the explosion was caused by a gas leak.

"We had a gas leak, we're going to determine its origin. Such a cloud of gas that then exploded and caused fires in at least two tanks of the refinery and in surrounding areas," he said.

State Gov. Stella Lugo said the fire caused "a lot of panic in the population," as it spread to some nearby homes, but added that firefighters have managed to put out much of the flames.

The refinery is part of the Paraguana complex, among the world's largest, CNN reported.

Venezuela, a founding member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, is one of the world's largest oil exporters and has a refinery capacity of more than 1 million barrels a day.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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