Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has sent condolences to President Hugo Chavez, as well as to the government and the people of Venezuela, following the fatal explosion at the country's largest oil refinery at Amuay over the weekend.
A total of 39 people were killed in the accident and several others were reported injured.
"Our hearts are with President Chavez, family and friends of the deceased, as well as the government and the people of Venezuela during this difficult time of mourning," President Zuma said.
The incident was the worst industrial accident in recent memory in Venezuela. The refinery is owned by the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).
South Africa maintains excellent bilateral relations with Venezuela, as was illustrated during the most recent meeting in July 2012 of Senior Officials of the Joint Bilateral Commission held in Caracas.
"It is expected that the investigation into the tragedy will bring closure to those families who have lost their loved ones in the line of duty to the great people of Venezuela," President Zuma added.