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Venezuelan Blast Kills 10, Cuts Oil Operations

March 26, 1993 GMT

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ The state oil company has halted some of its operations after a fire and explosion killed at least 10 people at a natural gas processing plant in western Venezuela, officials said Friday.

The death toll could hit 20, the state news agency Venpres reported.

The Maraven subsidiary, which operates the Lama plant on Lake Maracaibo, said that in addition, eight people were missing and 11 injured in Thursday’s accident. The plant lies more than 800 miles west of Caracas.

Maraven said gas production was temporarily halted in the area.

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Authorities suspect an accumulation of butane and propane gas caused the accident, with damage estimated in the millions, Venpres said.

A spokesman for the parent company, Petroleus de Venezuela, said some oil production also would be affected.