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Venezuelan refinery blast kills 42, injures 132, with 8 still missing

(Xinhua)

10:32, August 31, 2012

CARACAS, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said Thursday that the explosions at the Amuay fuel processing plant had killed 42 people and injured 132, with eight still missing.

In an interview broadcasted by state-run Venezolana de Television, Ortega, who is heading the investigation into the accident, said 41 of the dead had been identified and their remains had been claimed by their relatives, and DNA tests are being done on the last one to determine his identity.

Eight people are still unaccounted for so far while only 20 of the 132 injured remained in the hospital as of Wednesday Aug. 29, Ortega said.

In addition, some 280 people from 77 families had been treated for shock and other psychological trauma or received some type of social assistance from the Public Prosecutor' s Office, she said.

Last Saturday, a gas leak at Amuay fuel processing plant ignited and sparked fires at three fuel storage tanks which were finally extinguished Wednesday. Amuay fuel processing plant, in the country's northwest Falcon state, is one of three processing plants at the Paraguana Refinery Complex (CRP), the second largest in the world.

The blast destroyed or damaged some 500 homes and businesses around the complex, the authorities said.

Ortega said she had appointed a team of seven investigators to look into the explosion but had nothing to announce so far.

Meanwhile, Rafael Ramirez, energy minister and president of Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA which is in charge of the CRP, said Amauy fuel processing plant could resume operations in three days.

In an interview with Venezolana de Television, Ramirez said operations would "certainly restart" by Sunday.

Ramirez said thousands of PDVSA workers and volunteers were taking part in repairing homes damaged by the blast, while firefighters were continuing to cool down the three fuel tanks.

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