Over 120 Injured, Several Missing In Massive Cuban Oil Facility Fire

HAVANA (AP) — A fireplace set off by a lightning strike at an oil storage facility raged uncontrolled within the Cuban metropolis of Matanzas, the place 4 explosions and flames injured 121 individuals and left 17 firefighters lacking. Cuban authorities stated a unidentified physique had been discovered late Saturday.

Firefighters and different specialists had been nonetheless attempting to quell the blaze on the Matanzas Supertanker Base, the place the hearth started throughout a thunderstorm Friday evening, the Ministry of Vitality and Mines tweeted. Authorities stated about 800 individuals had been evacuated from the Dubrocq neighborhood closest to the hearth,

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

A fireplace in Matanzas, Cuba sparked a large black cloud of smoke and left a number of firefighters lacking on Saturday.

Yamil Lage/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

Deputy Overseas Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío stated the U.S. authorities had supplied technical assist to quell the blaze. On his Twitter account, he stated 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 gives of assist. A help flight from Mexico arrived Saturday evening.

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.

Roberto de la Torre, head of fireplace operations in Matanzas, stated firefighters had been spraying water on intact tanks attempting to maintain them cool in hopes of stopping the hearth from spreading.

Workers of Cuban Petroleum (CUPET) look at the black smoke near the fire at oil tanks in Matanzas, Cuba.
Staff of Cuban Petroleum (CUPET) take a look at the black smoke close to the hearth at oil tanks in Matanzas, Cuba.

Yamil Lage/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

Cuba’s Well being Ministry reported that 121 individuals had been injured with 5 of them in vital situation. The Presidency of the Republic stated the 17 individuals lacking had been “firefighters who were in the nearest area trying to prevent the spread.”

Later Saturday, the Well being Ministry stated in an announcement {that a} physique had been discovered and officers had been attempting to establish it.

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 large tanks that maintain oil used to gasoline electrical energy producing vegetation.

“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 instructed The Related Press by cellphone. “The city has a strong smell of sulfur.”

He stated some individuals additionally determined to depart the Versailles district, which is a bit of farther from the tank farm than Dubrocq.

People look at the black smoke above the oil storage facility site in Matanzas, Cuba on Saturday.
Individuals take a look at the black smoke above the oil storage facility web site in Matanzas, Cuba on Saturday.

Yamil Lage/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

Many ambulances, police and hearth 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 shifting 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.