Venezuela: Chavez visits oil refinery after deadly blast

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Venezuela: Chavez visits oil refinery after deadly blast

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Several people are said to be still missing after Saturday’s explosion and fire at Venezuela’s biggest oil refinery. With dozens still in hospital, it is feared the death toll of 41 could rise.

President Hugo Chavez visited the refinery at Amuay in the Caribbean. The blast destroyed a National Guard barracks killing 18 troops. 15 civilians also died.

A gas leak is being blamed but the president said: “(Investigators) have not yet been able to get there because it is very risky. I am going there. They have recommended that I don’t go but I am going to go. I want to get as close as possible. I won’t be happy just standing here.”

The disaster is one of the global oil industry’s deadliest.

Repeated accidents and stoppages at Venezuelan refineries have brought accusations of mismanagement and poor safety standards. The state oil company denies the installation was poorly maintained.

The disaster is likely to have little impact on world fuel prices because Venezuela can use its existing stocks to supply the domestic market and maintain exports.