Three dead in explosion and fire at Argentinian oil refinery

Refinery owned by company New American Oil

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At least three people died in an explosion that sparked a fire at an oil refinery in the south of Argentina, local authorities said on Thursday.

The explosion at the refinery — owned by Argentinian company New American Oil in the town of Plaza Huincul, about 1,200 kilometres south of Buenos Aires — hit “one of the main crude tanks”, Mayor Gustavo Suarez told LU5 radio station.

The blast happened in the early hours of Thursday morning and the subsequent blaze destroyed six lorries, Mr Suarez said.

Firefighters were working to keep the flames “from spreading to other adjoining tanks to prevent them from exploding”.

“At this stage, it has been established that there are three dead,” said Mr Suarez, without commenting on whether others were injured or missing.

By midday, a fire in one part of the refinery was “more than 70 per cent extinguished”, said fire brigade chief Jose Acuna.

Nearby schools were evacuated, the local government said.

The provinces of Rio Negro, Neuquen and La Pampa are home to several refineries.

A local trade union called for an immediate strike in the face of “repeated situations” at plants in the sector.

Local government officials and directors of major oil companies called for an emergency meeting on Friday.

Updated: September 22, 2022, 11:26 PM