17 lacking, 121 harm as fireplace rages in Cuban oil tank farm

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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 121 individuals and left 17 firefighters lacking, Cuban authorities mentioned.

Firefighters and different specialists had been nonetheless making an attempt to quell the blaze on the Matanzas Supertanker Base, the place the hearth started throughout a thunderstorm Friday night time, the Ministry of Power and Mines tweeted. Authorities mentioned about 800 individuals had been evacuated from the Dubrocq neighborhood closest to the hearth,

The federal government mentioned it had requested for assist from worldwide consultants in “friendly countries” with expertise within the oil sector.

Deputy Overseas Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío mentioned the U.S. authorities had provided technical assist to quell the blaze. On his Twitter account, he mentioned the “proposal is in the hands of specialists for the due coordination.”

Minutes later, President Miguel Díaz-Canel thanked Mexico , Venezuela, Russia, Nicaragua, Argentina and Chile for his or her presents of assist. The primary help flights from Mexico and Venezuela had been anticipated to reach at Matanzas’ airport Saturday night time.

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

Roberto de la Torre, head of fireside operations in Matanzas, mentioned firefighters had been spraying water on intact tanks making an attempt to maintain them cool in hopes of stopping the hearth from spreading.

Cuba’s well being minister reported late Saturday that 121 individuals had been injured with 5 of them in essential situation. There have been no deaths. The Presidency of the Republic mentioned the 17 individuals lacking had been “firefighters who were in the nearest area trying to prevent the spread.”

The accident comes as Cuba struggles with gas shortages. There was no quick phrase on how a lot oil had burned or was at risk on the storage facility, which has eight big tanks that maintain oil used to gas 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 Related Press by cellphone. “The city has a strong smell of sulfur.”

He mentioned some individuals additionally determined to go away the Versailles district, which is a bit farther from the tank farm than Dubrocq.

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

Native meteorologist Elier Pila confirmed satellite tv for pc photographs of the realm with a dense plume of black smoke transferring from the purpose of the hearth westward and reaching east to Havana.

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

Andrea Rodríguez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ARodriguezAP

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