CARACAS, Saturday November 03, 2012 | Update

Shadows over accident at Amuay refinery

The relatives of the victims report irregularities in the investigation

Two months after the explosion, damages in the refinery can be seen from the distance. Serious damages in the storage tanks reflect the scale of the incident (Photos: Edsaú Olivares)
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Saturday November 03, 2012  12:00 AM
On August 25 at midnight, a cloud of gas leaked slowly across the surrounding residential areas of Amuay refinery, located in northwestern Falcón state, Venezuela. At 1 a.m., a blast ripped through the area. At least 42 people died, five people are still missing, and dozens of dwellings and stores were destroyed as a result of the explosion.

More than two months have passed since the tragedy and state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) has offered no explanation on the causes of the accident. The victims' relatives reckon that there are still many loose ends, and they are waiting for answers to their questions.

Engelberth Delgado lost five of his relatives in the accident, but the authorities only found one body. He believes that there were many contradictions in the rescue operations, since, according to his report, a few hours after the accident, when rescue works were still running, heavy machinery started to clear debris in the area. "We want to know who ordered to remove the debris," Delgado requested.

"A huge mistake was made: not completing rescue works inside the structures. We will not be able to know what happened inside each dwelling," a rescuer who took part in the rescue works asserted. From his point of view, that is the reason why five people remain missing.

The rescuer, who asked not to be identified, reported that the following morning after the accident (Sunday, August 26), relief groups cleared the area of the accident following orders of military officials. When rescue groups returned to the area on Monday, August 27, the place had been altered.

A firefighter, who also asked to remain anonymous, added that during the hours following the blast, disorganization and irregularities prevailed. "The first and second day (following the explosion) houses and stores were looted and there was lack of coordination," he remarked.

On the other hand, several injured are still waiting for the compensation they were promised, while other people who lost their houses are waiting for solutions.

Translated by Andreína Trujillo
Whose victim am I?

They are marching in step to the same tune. There is a coordinated effort to position the idea. The Twitter hashtag  #YoSoyVictimaDeLaGuarimba (I'm a victim of "guarimbas", or protest barricades) can be read on all pro-government Twitter accounts, including those of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the National Assembly's Press Office, the state-run food distribution network PDVAL, state airline Conviasa, the Venezuelan embassies in foreign countries, radio stations and the huge media network responsive to the Government's interests and messages.

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