A fireplace 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 practically 80 individuals and left 17 firefighters lacking, Cuban authorities stated Saturday.
Firefighters and different specialists have been nonetheless attempting to quell the blaze at the Matanzas Supertanker Base, which started throughout a thunderstorm Friday night time, the Ministry of Energy and Mines tweeted. The authorities stated later that it had requested for assist from worldwide consultants in “friendly countries” with expertise within the oil sector.
The official Cuban News Agency stated lightning hit one tank, beginning a hearth, and the blaze later unfold to a second tank. As army helicopters flew overhead dropping water on the blaze, dense column of black smoke billowed from the facility and unfold westward greater than 100 kilometres towards Havana.
The Facebook web page of the provincial authorities of Matanzas stated the variety of injured had reached 77, whereas 17 individuals have been lacking. The Presidency of the Republic stated 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 fast 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.
A column of smoke and a sulphur scent
“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 informed The Associated Press by cellphone.
“The city has a strong smell of sulphur.”
Authorities stated the Dubrocq neighborhood closest to the hearth was evacuated, whereas Gonzalez added that some individuals determined to go away the Versailles district, which is a bit of farther from the tank farm.
Many ambulances, police and fireplace engines have been seen within the streets of Matanzas, a metropolis with about 140,000 inhabitants that’s on Matanzas Bay.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel travelled to the world of the hearth early Saturday, officers stated.
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 hearth westward and reaching east to Havana.
“That plume can be close to 150 kilometres long,” Pila wrote on his Twitter account.