The fire started on Friday by a lightning strike on fuel tanks in the Cuban city of Matanzas has caused the collapse of a second tank late this Sunday, whose collapse has caused a powerful explosion visible from different parts of the island , including the capital, Havana.
The governor of Matanzas, Mario Sabines Lorenzo, has confirmed the collapse of the second and third fuel tanks, as well as the oil spill in the vicinity, according to the state press. However, the third of these warehouses is still standing, although the situation remains out of control after some 40 hours of uninterrupted flames.
The authorities of the Cuban regime maintain the provisional balance of one deceased at one, while another 15 people remain missing and five of the 24 hospitalized patients are in critical condition, according to the updated count by the dictatorship’s Ministry of Public Health.
The residential area closest to the deposits, located in the supertanker port of Matanzas, remains evacuated as a precaution and it is not ruled out that the radius could be expanded if the situation worsens. The regime has ruled out danger to the city as a whole.
A huge column of fire of several tens of meters has suddenly risen from the area of the incident minutes before midnight (4:00 GMT), as broadcast by Cuban television.
According to state media, the efforts of the Cuban and international emergency teams to contain the flames in the first two affected deposits have not been successful. The infrastructure has a total of eight tanks of 50,000 cubic meters each.
The flames have reached the third tank, which had been cooled with seawater for much of this Sunday, almost at the same time that the second affected tank collapsed due to the fire.
Shortly before, the emergency teams had withdrawn from the area of the incident after a strong wind prevented their work and fanned the flames.
The Cuban Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) indicated in its latest report that the fire has so far left one dead and 122 injured, of which five remain in critical condition, three are in serious condition and 16 are receiving care (the rest have been discharged).
The missing are mainly firefighters who were surprised by the explosion of the second tank when they were working on the front line to stop the fire in the first. The recovery of the bodies will not begin until the flames are extinguished, explained the Cuban regime.
In addition, some 5,000 people have been evicted from Matanzas neighborhood housing located in the vicinity of the industrial park.
The fire broke out around 7:00 p.m. local time (11:00 p.m. GMT) on Friday, according to the first hypotheses, when lightning struck the base of fuel deposits and exceeded the capabilities of the lightning rod system.
That same afternoon the first tank exploded, with some 25,000 cubic meters of oil, and at around 7:00 local time (11:00 GMT) the second, with an undetermined amount of fuel, ignited.
The flames have risen several tens of meters, dyeing the sky of nearby Matanzas red, and the huge column of black smoke has reached Havana, more than 100 kilometers away.
Amanecer en Matanzas, esto aún se ve así pic.twitter.com/IambmVz4xb— 🌻Jessi🌻🇨🇺🇺🇸🇨🇦 (@Jessi_Cuban) August 8, 2022