On Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez called on all Venezuelans to stand in solidarity with the families of the victims of an explosion Saturday at the Amuay oil refinery at Punto Fijo in the state of Falcón.
“I’m calling on everyone to have nerves of steel and use the best judgment for all those communities near the Amuay refinery, because lamentably and sadly there are some in our country that are toying with death and tragedy,” he said.
“Right now, at this moment, what I feel is very wounded… we are beginning to feel a great pain, like a dagger in the heart,” he said, speaking to the press at the Paraguyaná Refinery Complex.
Chávez called on the media to avoid speculating and to convey information in a responsible manner.
“It’s time to call on ourselves to lift the spirits of all Venezuelans, to lift the human spirit… it would be very sad for some Venezuelans to try to use the pain that overwhelms us, that of the families, the sacrifice of the victims, to take advantage of it,” he said.
The president offered his condolences to the family members, victims and all persons affected by the explosion.
He deemed irresponsible those that suggest the problem was poor maintenance of the refinery, since the source of the blast has not been located.
“I know who is saying this but I won’t sink to their level. I prefer to keep my spirits up and avoid any self-interest,” he said.
The Venezuelan leader said that the government is currently focused on helping the wounded and their families and surveying the damage.
President Chávez indicated that he named the head of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, General Miguel Rodríguez, to lead a team to investigate the events at the refinery.
“Now they are doing a first evaluation, but they have not yet accessed the central point of the explosion because it is still very dangerous,” he said, recalling that a technical team at the complex detected a gas leak on the day of the blast.
The Minister of Oil and Mining Rafael Ramírez said Monday morning that the fire, which has been confined in two tanks, should be totally extinguished in the coming hours. In a televised, the minister said that the plan is to initially reduce the fire to one tank and then extinguish the other.
Ciudad Caracas / Press- Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S. / August 27, 2012