Venezuela: Chaos in Amuay After Oil Refinery Explosion

A gas tank exploded at 1 am today, August 25, in the Amuay refinery in Judibana, Falcón state. The explosion has left at least 26 dead (media from Falcón report 35 deaths) and 86 injured. Most of the casualties are members of the National Bolivarian Guard. Amuay is Venezuela's most important refinery, and one of the five largest oil refineries in the world.

The reasons behind this accident are still unclear.

Gabriela Gonzalez (@gabriela2400) [es], a doctor and neighbour living in the area, told Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda that the refinery's alarm system was activated half an hour before the accident and then turned off.

(@gabriela2400): @NelsonBocaranda Las alarmas empezaron a sonar a las 12:30 y al poco rato las apagaron.

(@gabriela2400) [es]: @NelsonBocaranda Alarms went off at 12:30 and were quickly turned off.

Vice-President Elías Jaua and Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) President, Rafael Ramírez, are currently in Amuay. They stated [es] that authorities will work in the refinery until the fire is extinguished, and that the smoke reported by citizens is part of the firemen's labours to control the situation. Furthermore, they assured that the Government will assume full responsibility for damages.

The photos and videos circulating online show a zone that seems to have been affected by an earthquake rather than an explosion. Noticias 24 [es] gathered photos by photographer Héctor Silva, one of the people present in Amuay since the beginning of the tragedy.

Several citizen videos of the explosion are being shared on YouTube:

Newspaper La Verdad (@laverdadweb) [es] reported [es] that propane gas smell is present in the area round the refinery; the odour is similar to the smell of tear gas.

José Luis Cova R (@JLCova) [es] commented on Twitter:

@JLCova: El radio de accion de la explosion d las esferas d propano es devastador.. La entrada a Judibana y todo alrededor esta Destruida

@JLCova [es]: The action radius for the propane spheres explosion is devastating. The entrance to Judibana and everything surrounding it is destroyed.

He also reports that a food and alcoholic beverage store, known in Venezuela as bodegones, was looted:

@JLCova: El bodegon Lizolca a la entrada de judibana Fue Saqueado!

@JLCova [es]: The Lizolca bodegon at the entrance of Judibana was looted!

Most of the people injured in the explosion were taken to the Calles Sierra Hospital, which doesn't have enough supplies, as reported by Gabriela Gonzalez (@gabriela2400) [es]:

@gabriela2400: Hospital Calles Sierra Necesita: antibióticos, plasma, sangre, analgésicos, morfina, demerol, gasas, ringer, sol fisiológica.

@gabriela2400 [es]: Calles Sierra Hospital needs: antibiotics, plasma, blood, analgesics, morphine, demerol, gauze, ringer's lactate solution, saline solution.

President Hugo Chávez has declared three days of national mourning for the victims at  Amuay.


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