Venezuela Refinery Explosion Kills At Least 26

By: AP
By: AP

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- At least 26 people have been killed in a huge explosion at Venezuela's biggest oil refinery.

The blast sent balls of fire into the air over one of the largest refineries in the world.

The oil minister says the blast occurred early today when a gas leak created a cloud that ignited. He says an adjacent National Guard post was severely damaged by the blast, along with nearby homes.

Officials say the dead include a 10-year-old boy, but most of the victims were National Guard troops.

Venezuela's health minister says at least 86 people were injured, but most of them were treated at hospitals and released.

President Hugo Chavez has declared three days of mourning in the country and ordered an investigation to determine what caused the explosion.

Government officials are pledging to restart the refinery within two days. They say the country has plenty of fuel supplies on hand to meet its domestic needs as well as its export commitments.

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