At least forty-eight people have died in what may be the worst accident to hit the Venezuelan oil industry in recent years.
According to the governor of Falcon state, the death toll could continue to rise after a massive explosion rocked the Amuay refinery on Saturday. Moreover, local hospitals are still tending to “scores of people” injured by the fire that continue to burn and spread yesterday from two to three fuel storage tanks at the facility.
“It’s very early to draw any conclusions from the investigation because we haven’t even been able reach the spot where the explosion occurred,” said President Hugo Chavez who declared three days of mourning and toured the affected areas. According to BBC News, however, the possible cause of the blast became a main topic in Venezuela’s contentious presidential race:
The country's opposition candidate in the forthcoming presidential election, Henrique Capriles, said government inefficiency under Mr Chavez was to blame for the accident.
"When things aren't done properly, with responsibility, then you have to prepare for the consequences," he said…
But Mr Chavez said there was no evidence the blast was the result of poor maintenance. Investigators have yet to determine the precise causes but government officials have said the blast occurred after a gas leak created a cloud that ignited.
The incident Venezuela's biggest refinery helped push up U.S. fuel prices yesterday and gasoline futures could keep rising over doubts on government promises to restart the refinery within two days.
Video Source– YouTube via AFP
Online Sources – Bloomberg, BBC News, USA TODAY