HAVANA, CUBA – In the midst of an energy crisis, a fire engulfed a fourth tank at an oil storage facility in western Cuba on Tuesday.
Mexican and Venezuelan firefighters helped put out the blaze in Matanzas with boats, planes, and helicopters, spraying foam on the containers for the first time since broiling temperatures had prevented them from doing so earlier.
As part of his efforts to quell the fire, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel stated that crews have taken control of the area where it is burning.
“They are not easy tasks,” he said. “It is an intense and complex incident.“
At least one person has been killed, 125 others have been injured, and 14 firefighters are still missing following the fire at the Matanzas Supertanker Base. As a result, over 4,900 people were evacuated and a thermoelectric plant was shut down after it ran out of water, causing additional power outages.
The majority of the injured were treated for burns and smoke inhalation. There are more than 20 patients in the hospital, five of whom are in critical condition.
Adneris Díaz a 22-year-old cafe owner said, “this situation has us very worried at the moment because there are problems with electricity, with the environment, with the people who are still living here.”
Cuba’s eight-tank facility plays a crucial role in its electric system since it operates a pipeline that transports Cuban crude oil to thermoelectric plants for electricity generation. In addition, it serves as a transshipment and unloading center for crude oil, fuel oil, and diesel imported from abroad.
After lightning struck a tank at the facility late Friday, several explosions erupted over the weekend, causing it to catch fire. There were approximately 883,000 cubic feet (25,000 cubic meters) of fuel in the first tank, which was at half capacity. The second tank was full.
Damage estimates have not yet been provided by officials. As a result of the sweltering summer, the government announced scheduled blackouts for Havana.
Cafe owner Tahimi Sanchez, 48, said, “The economic effects are clear.” “They are there, we will notify them and we will see them, but we are confident, and we are going to come out of all this well.”