"Refinery Blast Kills 39 in Venezuela, Dozens Hurt"

"PUNTO FIJO, Venezuela -- A huge explosion rocked Venezuela's biggest oil refinery and unleashed a ferocious fire on Saturday, killing at least 39 people and injuring more than 80 others in one of the deadliest disasters ever to hit the country's key oil industry."

"Balls of fire rose over the Amuay refinery, among the largest in the world, in video posted on the Internet by people who were nearby at the time. Government officials pledged to restart the refinery within two days and said the country has plenty of fuel supplies on hand to meet domestic needs as well as its export commitments.

The explosion shattered walls of nearby shops, ripped out windows from homes and left the surrounding streets covered with rubble and twisted scraps of metal.

President Hugo Chavez declared three days of mourning and ordered an investigation to determine the cause of the explosion. 'This affects all of us,' Chavez said by phone on state television. 'It's very sad, very painful.'"

Ian James and Jorge Rueda reports for the Associated Press August 25, 2012.

Source: AP, 08/27/2012