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Venezuela refinery blast: Toll rises to 26

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Venezuela refinery blast: Toll rises to 26
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Caracas: The toll in a powerful blast at a refinery in Venezuela has risen to 26, officials said. A 10-year-old child was among the dead.

The blast that also injured around 80 people took place Saturday at the Amuay oil refinery, Xinhua reported.

The refinery, with an initial capacity of processing 650,000 barrels of oil per day, is Venezuela's largest oil refinery, owned by Petroleos de Venezuela SA. It is located in the Paraguana Peninsula, 350 km from Caracas.

Among those killed, 17 were members of the country's National Guard who were protecting the refining facility, said Vice President Elias Jaua, who visited the area.

Among the more than 50 wounded in the blast, four were in hospital, and the rest were sent home since they were not seriously injured, he said.

The situation is under control and there is no risk of further explosions, officials said.

The powerful blast also caused damage to nearby houses and shops, and forced the refinery to shut down operation.

Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said there was "significant damage to the infrastructure" and houses in front of the refinery.

He said the blast was sparked by a gas leak, the cause of which remained to be determined.

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.

IANS

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