Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ordered an investigation into what caused a huge explosion at the country’s largest oil refinery.
At least 39 people are now known to have been killed in the disaster and dozens more wounded.
Flames filled the sky above the Amuay facility, giving off searing heat, felt by residents just a few hundred metres away. Homes and businesses have been damaged.
“We’re at a very high risk here,” said Nelly da Lugo, who lives near the refinery.
“We’re the most affected in this community, not only because of the gases, but also because of all the other things the refinery puts out.”
Initial reports suggested that a leak of natural gas, which then ignited, caused the blast.
Critics say safety standards have slipped in the industry because of a lack of investment.
The refinery’s manager has denied poor maintenance was to blame.
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