A huge explosion has rocked a major gas pipeline in Venezuela, in what authorities believe to have been a terrorist attack.
The blast occurred at a pipeline belonging to oil and gas company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), in the state of Monagas’ city of El Tejero, on Saturday.
Video footage shared on social media shows the blast throwing a pillar of fire into the sky.
Authorities evacuated residents living in the neighboring areas of the gas pipeline.
No casualties have so far been reported.
Venezuelan Minister of Industries and National Production and Minister of Petroleum Tareck El Aissami said the incident was plotted by terrorists.
He said that the blast was part of a series of “criminal attacks” with the purported intent to disrupt the work of PDVSA, but did not name any group or country.
The plant is a part of the production compressing gas and injecting it at high pressure into wells in the El Tejero, La Leona, and La Urica regions.
President Nicolas Maduro has repeatedly accused the United States of organizing attacks on communications, energy, and oil and gas facilities in the oil-rich country.
Maduro believes the US and its allies have been deepening the economic crisis in the country.
According to the president, Western sanctions are aimed at targeting the PDVSA and its subsidiaries in an attempt to seize its foreign assets and prevent the firm from completing transactions.
Venezuela descended into political turmoil after opposition figure Juan Guaido unilaterally declared himself “interim president” of the country in January 2019 and made abortive attempts to overthrow the elected government.
Guaido’s self-proclamation and his coup received backing from the US administration and a group of its European and regional allies.
Washington has imposed several rounds of crippling sanctions against the oil-rich Latin American country aimed at ousting Maduro and replacing him with Guaido.
The sanctions, which include the illegal confiscation of Venezuelan assets abroad and an economic blockade, have caused enormous suffering for millions of people in the country.