Firefighters on Tuesday lastly overcame what officers described because the worst fireplace in Cuba’s historical past that over 5 days destroyed 40% of the Caribbean island’s fundamental gasoline storage facility and prompted huge blackouts.
Reuters witnesses reported the raging flames that ravaged a four-tank section of the Matanzas tremendous tanker port had died down and the towering plumes of thick black smoke streaming from the realm had been diminished and now principally grey.
Matanzas is Cuba’s largest port for receiving crude oil and gasoline imports. Cuban heavy crude, in addition to gasoline oil and diesel saved in Matanzas in 10 big tanks, are primarily used to generate electrical energy on the island.
Lightning struck one gasoline storage tank on Friday night. The fireplace unfold to a second by Sunday and engulfed the four-tank space on Monday, accompanied by big explosions and regardless of efforts by native firefighters supported by greater than 100 Mexican and Venezuelan reinforcements.
Firefighter Rafael Perez Garriga advised Reuters on the steaming outskirts of the catastrophe that he worries the hearth would affect the facility scenario within the nation.
“The situation is going to be more difficult. If the thermoelectric plants are supplied with that oil, we are going to have the whole world affected, it is electricity and it affects everything,” he mentioned.
The Communist-run nation, underneath heavy US sanctions, is all however bankrupt. Frequent blackouts and shortages of gasoline and different commodities already had created a tense scenario with scattered native protests following final summer time’s historic unrest in July.
On Tuesday, extra helicopters joined the hassle to place out the hearth, together with two fireboats despatched by Mexico together with heavy firefighting tools.
“We have not yet been able to access the impact area due to the conditions. There is combustion and so we cannot risk our lives for now,” Perez mentioned round midday.
Later within the day firefighters for the primary time had been coming into the realm and spraying foam and water on the nonetheless smoldering stays.
“Today we have managed to control the fire,” Rolando Vecino, head of transport for the Ministry of the Inside, mentioned on state-run tv from the scene.
Officers haven’t mentioned how a lot gasoline has been misplaced within the fireplace which destroyed all 4 tanks. Authorities acknowledged that no oil had contaminated the close by Matanzas Bay. Nonetheless they warned residents as distant as Havana to put on face masks and keep away from acid rain because of the huge plume of smoke the hearth generated.
One firefighter died and 14 went lacking on Saturday when the second tank blew up, authorities mentioned on Tuesday, correcting an earlier determine of 16 lacking. 5 others stay in crucial situation.
Mario Sabines, governor of the Matanzas province, about 60 miles (130 km) from Havana, quipped the flames unfold like an “Olympic torch” from one tank to the subsequent, turning every right into a “caldron.”