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Thursday, August 11, 2022

set fire to an electric oil tank in Cuba; dozens injured

HAVANA ( Associated Press) – A fire that was struck by lightning at a crude oil storage tank in the Cuban city of Matanzas later spread, causing multiple explosions and injuring more than 70 people, while firefighters and special personnel douse the blaze. were trying to. Which was out of control even on Saturday. About 77 people were injured and 17 firefighters were missing, officials said.

The incident began on Friday night, when a lightning storm struck the area of ​​the Matanjas supertanker base, the Ministry of Energy and Mines tweeted.

Residents of neighboring neighborhoods were evacuated and a thick column of black smoke blew from the air toward the capital, Havana.

Despite the work of firefighters and experts, the fire could not be brought under control, so it continued on Saturday, including fuel containers nearby. Officials reported at least four explosions and two tanks on fire. Officials said they would seek help from international experts.

From nearly every point in the city of Matanzas you could see black smoke that contrasted with the blue of the Caribbean sky, The Associated Press confirmed, while water trucks hurried, ambulances rang with sirens sounding and armed forces called. Helicopters dropped water in the area.

The base has eight huge silver colored tanks, which can be easily seen from the entrance of the city.

The Facebook page of Matanzas’s provincial government said the number of wounded had risen to 77, while 17 were missing. The Presidency of the Republic specified that there are 17 “firefighters who were in the closest area trying to stop the spread.”

Three local journalists who were covering the story were also injured during an early morning blast, but were said to be out of danger. Seven patients were referred to the Calixto García Hospital in Havana, which has an excellent burn ward.

“I was in the gym when I felt the first explosion. A column of smoke and a terrible fire rose from the sky,” said Adil Gonzalez, a 32-year-old language graduate and resident of Matanzas. “There is a strong smell of sulfur in the city,” he told The Associated Press. Told on phone.

The city of Matanzas has about 140,000 inhabitants. It is located next to the bay of the same name, about 100 kilometers east of Havana.

Gonzalez said he heard other explosions early in the morning and they sounded “like a bomb.”

Officials indicated that the closest neighborhood to the affected area, the Dubroc neighborhood, had been evacuated, but Gonzalez said some decided to move away from another, called Versailles, and a little further from the supertanker base. The neighbor said there were several ambulances, police and fire engines everywhere in the early hours.

The fire comes at a time when Cuba has great difficulties getting oil – it must buy half of what the island’s market needs overseas, to meet demand for its energy system and reduce blackouts. which overwhelms the population. How much fuel has been consumed by the flames so far is unknown, but since this was a national bill, its destination would have been to feed thermoelectric plants.

According to the Cuban News Agency, the affected container was at 50% of its capacity and lightning rods that could not protect the power discharged near the base. The fire later spread to another tank.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel visits the fire area at dawn. On its Twitter account, the Presidency of the Republic, without providing details, explained that the support of international experts from “allied countries” with experience in the oil sector was requested. Mexico and Venezuela are two allies and neighbors of an island with these characteristics.

Local meteorologist Elier Pila released satellite images of the area, showing a thick column of black smoke moving west from the point of the fire and reaching as far east as the capital Havana. “That plume (looks like it) could be about 150 kilometers long,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

A report from the Institute of Meteorology indicated that weather conditions this summer are favorable for smoke, which is spreading to the west and west-northwest in the provinces of Mayabec and Havana, where there is already a muddy black Clouds of color were reported. Like Alamar and 10 de Octubre.

Sensitive people or people with respiratory illness were advised not to do outdoor activities and to wear masks.


Andrea Rodriguez is here: www.twitter.com/ARodriguez Associated Press

World Nation News Desk
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