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.
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:
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
He also reports that a food and alcoholic beverage store, known in Venezuela as bodegones, 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.
President Hugo Chávez has declared three days of national mourning for the victims at Amuay.