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Venezuela petrol tanker blaze kills 13 in Caracas

  • 12-31-2011

A petrol tanker has crashed in Venezuela, bursting into flames and engulfing seven cars and a bus in burning fuel.

At least 13 people were killed in the accident on a busy road in the capital Caracas, and another 16 were injured. police said.

Rescue workers pulled charred bodies from the scorched vehicles.

The tanker is reported to have flipped over after the driver lost control, spilling petrol that then caught fire.

Caracas fire department coordinator William Martinez said the crash sent a river of burning fuel down the Pan-American Highway west of Caracas, engulfing other vehicles.

The flames were so intense that vegetation beside the road also caught fire and nearby houses were threatened before the blaze was brought under control, he told Venezuelan National Radio.

Survivor Mariana Salas said the bus caught fire in a matter of seconds.

"People started to get out of cars, the traffic was paralysed, nothing was moving in either direction," she said.

"Around 15 or 20 of us opened a route through the vegetation and managed to save ourselves."

President Hugo Chavez expressed dismay at the "lamentable tragedy".

"I send my prayers to the victims of the accident on the Pan-American Highway. To their families my feelings of sadness and all necessary support," he wrote on Twitter.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2011 BBC

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