Fire at Cuban oil tank farm leaves 17 lacking, dozens more injured – National

A hearth set off by a lightning strike at an oil storage facility raged uncontrolled Saturday within the metropolis of Matanzas, the place 4 explosions and flames injured almost 80 folks and left 17 firefighters lacking, Cuban authorities mentioned.

Firefighters and different specialists have been nonetheless making an attempt to quell the blaze at the Matanzas Supertanker Base, the place the fireplace started throughout a thunderstorm Friday night time, the Ministry of Energy and Mines tweeted. The governmeht mentioned later that it had requested for assist from worldwide specialists in “friendly countries” with expertise within the oil sector.

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The official Cuban News Agency mentioned lightning hit one tank, beginning a hearth, and the blaze later unfold to a second tank. As navy helicopters flew overhead dropping water on the blaze, dense column of black smoke billowed from the ability and unfold westward more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) towards Havana.

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The Facebook web page of the provincial authorities of Matanzas mentioned the variety of injured had reached 77, whereas 17 folks have been lacking. The Presidency of the Republic mentioned the 17 have been “firefighters who were in the nearest area trying to prevent the spread.”

The accident comes as Cuba struggles with gasoline shortages. There was no instant phrase on how a lot oil had burned or was in peril at the storage facility, which has eight large tanks that maintain oil used to gasoline electrical energy producing crops.

“I was in the gym when I felt the first explosion. A column of smoke and terrible fire rose through the skies,” resident Adiel Gonzalez advised The Associated Press by cellphone. “The city has a strong smell of sulfur.”

Members of the Cuban Red Cross put together to be transported to the Matanzas Supertanker Base, the place firefighters work to quell a blaze which started throughout a thunderstorm the night time earlier than, in Matazanas, Cuba, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. The hearth at an oil storage facility raged uncontrolled Saturday, the place 4 explosions and flames injured almost 80 folks and left over a dozen firefighters lacking, Cuban authorities mentioned.

(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Authorities mentioned the Dubrocq neighborhood closest to the fireplace was evacuated, whereas Gonzalez added that some folks determined to go away the Versailles district, which is a little bit farther from the tank farm.

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Many ambulances, police and hearth engines have been seen within the streets of Matanzas, a metropolis with about 140,000 inhabitants that’s on Matnzas Bay.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel traveled to the world of the fireplace early Saturday, officers mentioned.

Local meteorologist Elier Pila confirmed satellite tv for pc pictures of the world with a dense plume of black smoke shifting from the purpose of the fireplace westward and reaching east to Havana.

“That plume can be close to 150 kilometers long,” Pila wrote on his Twitter account.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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