Venezuelan AG says 42 died, 132 were injured in refinery blast

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The explosion at Venezuela's Amuay refinery last weekend killed 42 people, wounded 132 others and left eight people missing, Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said.

We have "42 dead victims, of whom 41 have been identified," whose bodies have been released to relatives, Ortega Diaz told Venezolana de Television, or VTV.

Prosecutors have received "reports of eight people missing" in the explosion and fire at the energy complex, the AG said.

"Of the 132 injured people, only 20 remain hospitalized because the rest had only slight injuries," Ortega Diaz said.

The Amuay refinery, one of the three in the Paraguana Refinery Complex, or CRP, was rocked by an explosion last Saturday that started a fire and damaged about 500 nearby buildings.

The blast started a fire that burned for four days and affected nine fuel tanks at the facility.

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Gov't says Brazil withstanding "worst year" of global crisis

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Brazil's finance minister said that Latin America's largest economy is holding up well amid the "worst year" of the global economic crisis and that its solid foundation will enable it to achieve growth of nearly 4 percent this year.

"In terms of seriousness, what's happening in 2012 is worse than what happened in 2009," Guido Mantega said during a meeting with government officials and private-sector representatives.

Mantega reiterated his criticism of the most highly developed countries for what he describes as their inadequate response to the global turmoil, which he acknowledged is "already contaminating" the main emerging economies.

"Now this situation is even affecting the most dynamic emerging economies like India and China," Mantega said, although he insisted Brazil was resisting the impact of the global slowdown.

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Mexican marines kill 3 gunmen

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Three gunmen were killed and two others wounded in a clash with Mexican marines in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, authorities said.

They said the confrontation took place in the central highlands of Veracruz.

It was about 5:00 a.m. when a convoy of marines on patrol outside the industrial city of Cordoba came under fire from a cluster of small homes, according to initial reports.

The ensuing gunfight, which lasted for 40 minutes, ended with three attackers dead and two others in custody. The marines also rescued a kidnapping victim and seized guns and drugs, the state government said in a statement.

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PDVSA confirms oil spill at Curacao refinery

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An oil spill occurred recently at the refinery on the Caribbean island of Curacao and clean-up operations are nearly complete, state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, said.

PDVSA did not say how the spill happened or how much crude seeped out.

"The event at Refineria Isla, in Curacao, happened more than 10 days ago" and was "quickly dealt with" by company management and the island's government, PDVSA said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Reports about the spill appeared this week in the press.

Curacao's coast guard said the spill occurred on Aug. 17 and affected the Jan Kok nature reserve, leaving animals covered in petroleum, the El Universal newspaper reported.

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U.S. authorities bust Mexican drug ring

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Seventeen people were arrested in Southern California on charges of smuggling large quantities of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines into the United States from Mexico.

Authorities raided more than a dozen different locations in the region.

"This investigation has dealt a serious blow to a trafficking network we believe was funneling significant quantities of high-grade methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin into the Los Angeles area," Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles, said in a statement.

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Gas station fire injures 32 in Cuba

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A huge fire at a gas station in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba injured 32 people, including 26 who were listed in serious or very serious condition, state media reported.

The fire started Tuesday night when "a state truck collided with one of the gasoline pumps" at the service station in Santiago, located about 950 kilometers (590 miles) east of Havana.

The crash caused a fuel spill, with experts concluding that spark from a nearby motorcycle may have ignited the gasoline, state television said, adding that the fire was put out before it could spread further

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21 Die in drug-related violence in northern Mexico

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A wave of drug-related violence claimed the lives of 17 people in Nuevo Leon state and four others in Coahuila state, both located in northern Mexico, officials said.

Military personnel found the bodies of three adults and a minor at a car wash in Saltillo, the capital of Coahuila.

Three men, ranging in age from 18 to 25, were kidnapped and murdered in Santa Catarina, a city in Nuevo Leon state, police said.

Two bodies were discovered inside an SUV at kilometer 24 of the Libramiento Noreste highway in the city of Escobedo.

Gunmen killed a woman outside her house in Escobedo, the Nuevo Leon State Investigations Agency, or AEI, said.

The mutilated body of a man, meanwhile, was found in Cienega de Flores, a city north of Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon, the AEI said.

Two dismembered bodies were discovered in Pesqueria, a city in central Nuevo Leon, the AEI said.

Two men were killed and a woman was wounded by gunmen in Montemorelos, a city in the southern part of Nuevo Leon, officials said.

Two people were murdered in another drug-related incident in the city of Apodaca.

Gunmen traveling in several vehicles killed three men and a woman in Monterrey's Alfonso Reyes district on Wednesday afternoon, an AEI spokesman said.

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EFE