A hearth 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 practically 80 folks and left 17 firefighters lacking, Cuban authorities mentioned Saturday.
Firefighters and different specialists have been nonetheless making an attempt to quell the blaze on the Matanzas Supertanker Base, which started throughout a thunderstorm Friday evening, the Ministry of Vitality and Mines tweeted. The federal government mentioned later that it had requested for assist from worldwide consultants in “pleasant international locations” with expertise within the oil sector.
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 kilometres towards Havana.
The Fb web page of the provincial authorities of Matanzas mentioned the variety of injured had reached 77, whereas 17 folks have been lacking. The Presidency of the Republic mentioned the 17 have been “firefighters who have been within the nearest space making an attempt to forestall the unfold.”
The accident comes as Cuba struggles with gas shortages. There was no fast 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.
A column of smoke and a sulphur scent
“I used to be within the gymnasium after I felt the primary explosion. A column of smoke and horrible fireplace rose by way of the skies,” resident Adiel Gonzalez informed The Related Press by telephone.
“Town has a powerful scent of sulphur.”
Authorities mentioned the Dubrocq neighborhood closest to the fireplace was evacuated, whereas Gonzalez added that some folks determined to go away the Versailles district, which is just a little farther from the tank farm.
Many ambulances, police and fireplace engines have been seen within the streets of Matanzas, a metropolis with about 140,000 inhabitants that’s on Matanzas Bay.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel travelled to the world of the fireplace early Saturday, officers mentioned.
Native meteorologist Elier Pila confirmed satellite tv for pc photographs of the world with a dense plume of black smoke transferring from the purpose of the fireplace westward and reaching east to Havana.
“That plume may be near 150 kilometres lengthy,” Pila wrote on his Twitter account.