Venezuelan oil refinery blast kills 39

A powerful blast at Venezuela's largest oil refinery complex in Paraguana Peninsula in Falcon state on Saturday morning killed at least 39 people and injured more than 86 people in the worst ever disaster in the country's oil industry.

The blast occurred in the Amuay refinery, which is part of the Paraguana refinery complex and about 370km west of the country's capital Caracas, when a gas leak created a cloud that ignited, causing the explosion and raising of large clouds of smoke and fire balls.

The blast caused damage to some infrastructure and homes adjacent to the refinery.

"We had a gas leak, we're going to determine their origin; a cloud of gas that then exploded and caused fires in at least two tanks of the refinery and in surrounding areas,'' the country's mining and petroleum minister Rafael Ramirez said in a telephone interview with the state television VTV.

''The blast was of a significant magnitude,'' he said.

Of the dead, 18 belonged to the National Guard and 16 were civilians and six bodies are yet to be identified, according to country's vice president Elias Jaua.