Statement on the Fuel Storage Accident in Venezuela

December 23, 1982

I have received with great sadness the news of the tragedy in Tacoa, Venezuela, where on Sunday, December 19, two fuel storage tanks exploded, resulting in the death of over 100 people, injuries to hundreds more, and extensive economic losses due to ensuing fires.

Coming on the eve of the Christmas season, this tragedy saddens all Americans. To the families of all who have perished in this calamity, including numerous firefighters and journalists, Mrs. Reagan and I, on behalf of the people of the United States, extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences. Our prayers go out to all of those who have suffered so greatly, and especially to those injured, for whom we wish a speedy recovery.

The U.S. Embassy in Caracas has been in continuous contact with Venezuelan authorities since the beginning of the tragedy to find ways in which the United States might be of assistance. For example, within a short time after the first explosions, a team of U.S. Coast Guard specialists in petroleum spills was dispatched to the scene of the fire. The U.S. Government stands ready and willing to help further.

In times like these, when a major disaster strikes, the people of the Americas must help in every way possible and offer solace to our friends in Venezuela.