17 lacking, dozens damage as hearth rages in Cuban oil tank farm


HAVANA — 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 almost 80 folks and left 17 firefighters lacking, Cuban authorities stated.

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

The official Cuban Information Company stated lightning hit one tank, beginning a fireplace, 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 power and unfold westward greater than 100 kilometers (62 miles) towards Havana.

The Fb web page of the provincial authorities of Matanzas stated the variety of injured had reached 77, whereas 17 folks have been lacking. The Presidency of the Republic stated the 17 have been “firefighters who have been within the nearest space making an attempt to stop the unfold.”

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

“I used to be within the fitness center after I felt the primary explosion. A column of smoke and horrible hearth rose by way of the skies,” resident Adiel Gonzalez advised The Related Press by telephone. “The town has a powerful odor of sulfur.”

Authorities stated the Dubrocq neighborhood closest to the fireplace was evacuated, whereas Gonzalez added that some folks determined to depart the Versailles district, which is slightly farther from the tank farm.

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 stated.

Native meteorologist Elier Pila confirmed satellite tv for pc photographs 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 could be near 150 kilometers lengthy,” Pila wrote on his Twitter account.

Andrea Rodríguez on Twitter:

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