Skooter reporting 08/26/12
Venezuela’s biggest oil refinery was rattled by a massive explosion and let loose a violent fire on Saturday, killing about 39 people and wounding more than 80 others in one of the deadliest disasters ever to struck the country's key oil industry.
People who were nearby at the time, video posted balls of fire rose over the Amuay refinery, among the largest in the world. Flames surged nearly 100 feet into the night air still hissed almost 20 hours after the explosion happened at 1:15 a.m., issuing off searing heat felt by the residents of the neighborhood located approximately 1,000 feet from the refinery.
The huge explosion demolished walls of nearby shops, ripped out windows from homes and left the surrounding streets laced with debris and twisted scraps of metal.
According to Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, the blast started about 1:15 a.m. when a natural gas leak created a cloud that ignited.
President Hugo Chavez declared three days of mourning and ordered a full investigation to find out the cause of the explosion. Government officials promised to restart the refinery within couple of days and assured the country has plenty of fuel supplies on hand to meet domestic needs as well as its export commitments.Photos: Deadly explosion at oil refinery in Venezuela