The death toll from the explosion and the ensuing fire at Venezuela's largest oil refinery has risen to 48, officials say. The explosion took place early Saturday at the Amuay plant located on the Paraguana Peninsula in the northwestern Falcon State.
Stella Lugo, the state governor, told local radio on Monday that the death toll now stands at 48 and several of those injured in the accident remain hospitalized.Meanwhile, Venezuelan Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez announced that the fire, which has been raging for three days, has spread to a third fuel tank. He noted, however, that firefighters were working to "control and confine" the blaze, which had previously been confined to two of the nine storage tanks at the facility. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has declared three days of national mourning and promised an investigation into the explosion, which is said to have been caused by a gas leak. The Amuay refinery, one of the biggest in the world, produced 645,000 barrels of crude per day before the explosion occurred. MN/HJL