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Refinery blast kills 24 in Venezuela, 86 hurt

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Refinery blast kills 24 in Venezuela, 86 hurtA huge explosion rocked Venezuela's biggest oil refinery and unleashed a ferocious fire Saturday, killing at least 24 people and injuring more than 80 others in the deadliest disaster in memory for the country's key oil industry.

Balls of fire rose over the Amuay refinery, one of the largest in the world, in video posted on the Internet by people who were nearby at the time. Government officials pledged to restart the refinery within two days and said the country has plenty of fuel supplies on hand to meet its domestic needs as well as its export commitments.

At least 86 people were injured, nine of them seriously, Health Minister Eugenia Sader said at a hospital where the wounded were taken. She said 77 people suffered light injuries and were released from the hospital.

Officials said those killed included a 10-year-old boy, but that most of the victims were National Guard troops stationed at the refinery.

Vice President Elias Jaua, who traveled to the area in western Venezuela, said the authorities were "trying to save the greatest number of lives."

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