Venezuela refinery blast toll rises to 39, probe ordered
Caracas: President Hugo Chavez has ordered an immediate investigation into Venezuela refinery blast that killed 39 and injured more than 80.
President Chavez also declared three days of national mourning as the death toll in the powerful blast has risen from 24 yesterday to 39.
Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez initially said that a gas leak had caused the blast that also caused "significant damage to the infrastructure" and houses in front of the refinery.
The refinery would resume operations by Monday, and the blast would not have a major impact on exports and domestic supply as the country "has enough fuel supplies", the minister said.
Among those killed, there was a 10-year-old child and 17 were members of the country's National Guard who were protecting the refining facility, officials said.
The blast took place Saturday at the Amuay oil refinery, which is Venezuela's largest oil refinery, with an initial capacity of processing 650,000 barrels of oil per day.
The refinery is owned by Petroleos de Venezuela SA. It is located in the Paraguana Peninsula, 350 km from Caracas.