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39 Killed in Venezuela Refinery Explosion

Balls of fire rise over Amuay refinery near Punto Fijo, Venezuela, August 25, 2012.
A massive explosion has ripped through Venezuela's largest oil refinery, leaving at least 39 people dead.

Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez says Saturday's blast in northwestern Venezuela was caused by a leak that generated an explosive cloud of gas.

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the leak at the Amuay facility, which is part of the Paraguana refining complex.

The explosion sparked fires at the refinery and damaged nearby homes. Vice President Elias Jaua traveled to the site. He said most of those killed were members of the country's National Guard.

Investigators say more than 80 people were injured.

The Paraguana facility is one of the biggest refinery complexes in the world. Ramirez says he expects production at the site to resume within two days.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.