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Arms depot fire controlled in Venezuela

01-31-2011 11:10 BJT

CARACAS, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Civil Protection organization of Venezuela on Sunday controlled a major fire at an arms depot in Maracay city, capital of Aragua state in the center-north of the country, Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua said.

"At this time (11:30 a.m. local time, 1600 GMT) we can say that the fire and the explosions were controlled. Now we are investigating to determine the causes," Jaua told state-run TV channel Venezolana de Television (VTV).

Jaua met with Interior Minister Tarek El Aissami and Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro in La Victoria locality to discuss the cooperation needed to solve the emergency.

Jaua said that the fire injured three people and killed one.

Now the priority for the authorities is to assist the more than 10,000 people who were evacuated as a preventive measure, he added.

Those people were evacuated for the creation of a security cordon of 6 km, established by the security police around the fire site, in Tapatapa locality of Girardot municipality in Maracay.

Jaua said that to the moment the causes of the fire and explosion remain unknown, but the police will launch investigations as soon as possible.

"We cannot say anything yet, but in cases like this we do not discard any hypothesis. If it is an accident we will let it be known, but Venezuela is a country threatened by powerful forces and we cannot discard any hypothesis," Jaua said.

The fire started at about 4:30 a.m. local time (0900 GMT) Sunday in the depots of the Anonymous Venezuelan Company of Military Industries (CAVIM), and caused explosions of the munitions kept there.

The facilities have 20 areas, but only four of them were affected thanks to the swift action of the firemen, the Civil Protection and military staff to control the fire.

Defense Minister Carlos Mata, Health Minister Eugenia Sader and Food Minister Carlos Osorio went to the explosion scene, along with national director of Civil Protection Luis Diaz and high- ranking military officers.

At about 10:00 a.m. local time (1430 GMT), general commander of the National Guard Luis Motta announced that 95 percent of the fire had been controlled.

Second commander of the Firemen Police of the Capital District Delio Martinez said: "We have finished the stage of putting out the fire, now it comes the stage of refreshing and removing, to flood the zone and prevent the fire from burning again."

Meanwhile, Aragua's Governor Rafael Isea urged people in the region to remain alert and report any grenade or explosives they see in the near future.

"In case you see or identify munitions or grenades, do not touch them and immediately report it to the authorities," Isea said.

Isea also asked the 10,000 evacuated people to keep calm, as they will still have to wait for several hours before going back home.

The government guaranteed that the evacuated would have food, water and all necessary assistance while they are in temporary shelters.

The Defense Ministry also announced the reopening of the Regional Highway of the Center, which had been closed due to the fire.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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