Blast at Venezuela's Amuay refinery kills at least 7


An oil well operated by Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA in Morichal, Venezuela, on July 28, 2011. Venezuela will fulfill its compromise of co-financing with its Brazilian counterpart Petrobras the construction of the Abreu y Lima oil refinery that would process 240,000 oil drums per day, venezuela's Oil and Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said on July 29, 2011.


Ramon Sahmkow

Venezuela's biggest oil refinery was rocked by an explosion early today, killing at least seven people and injuring nearly 50, South American officials said on state television, according to NBC News.

"There was a gas leak," NBC cited Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez as saying on state TV. "A cloud of gas exploded ... it was a significant explosion, there are appreciable damages to infrastructure and houses opposite the refinery."

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A local governor said there is no possibility of another explosion at the Amuay facility, which contributes some 645,000 of barrels of oil a day to the massive refining center located in the country's west, reported Reuters.

The Paraguana refining center is one of the biggest in the world, according to BBC

Rescue workers are at the scene and people are being evacuated from the area, NBC cited local authorities as saying, nodding to a dramatic picture of the flaming facility published in Venezuela newspaper El Universal

Falcon state governor Stella Lugo said even though there is a large fire at the facility, things are under control, according to BBC

Venezuela is South America's largest producer of crude and a member of OPEC. Its facilities often have infrastructure problems.