Venezuela's bishops grieved over the explosion and fire at an oil refinery in the country – one of the four largest in the world – that killed 41 people, left dozens injured and is still burning after three days.
Authorities at the Amuay refinery, the largest in Venezuela with a capacity of 645,000 barrels per day, said that if the flames cannot be extinguished, they will wait for the fire to burn out and cool off for two days before re-launching operations.
The bishops of Venezuela said the 41 deaths caused by the explosion and fire are cause for “mourning and saddens for the entire Venezuelan nation, and especially for the inhabitants of the state of Falcon.”
“As pastors of the Church, we want to convey our words of Christian comfort and solidarity to those affected by this unfortunate incident. May faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord of Life, the physician of our souls and bodies, sustain them in their sorrow and grant them the peace that only He can give.
May they be assured that the prayers and affection of all Catholics in Venezuela are with them at this time,” the bishops said. They also offered prayers for the eternal repose of the deceased.
“We pray that trust in the one who says: 'I am the resurrection and the life,' will strengthen those who today mourn the deaths of their loved ones in the hope of eternal life.”
The explosion at the refinery appeared to be caused by a three day-long gas leak, although President Hugo Chavez has denied this.
Ivan Freites, the union president at the Paraguana Refinery Center – which includes the Amuay and Cardon refineries – called the denials an “attempt to confuse the public.”
“The managers are acting like political operatives. They are saying what they have to say to keep their positions,” he argued.