Explosions rock Cuba as fire at oil facility kills 1, injures 125


A massive fire broke out at an oil facility in Matanzas, Cuba, on Friday, sending plumes of smoke into the air for two days. But late Sunday, the night sky glowed an eerie, orange shade after more fuel tanks collapsed or exploded, sending people running in fear and raising concerns about the growing human toll.

As of Monday morning, 125 people had been injured, 17 firefighters were missing and one responding officer had died. At least 24 people stayed admitted to hospitalOfficials said that five of them are in critical condition.

Lightning struck one of the crude storage tanks at a supertanker base in northwest Cuba, about 55 miles east of Havana, and the fire started around 7 p.m. Friday. The flames quickly spread to the second tank and several explosions occurred. This is also indicated Exile Out of about 5,000 people in the neighboring region, Matanzas Governor Mario Sabines Lorenzo said, according to state media.

But conditions worsened on Sunday when strong winds fanned the flames, according to Cuba Ministry of Energy and Mines. As night fell on the island, a second tank to catch fire exploded and collapsed, spreading burning oil and flames into the surrounding vegetation, and a third tank caught fire. A journalist and two workers from Cuba Oil Union, the country’s largest oil company, were injured in the blaze, according to the agency.

Now there is a third tank”Under risk“As for being consumed by fire, Sabines Lorenzo said – clarifying that it did not collapse as earlier reports suggested.

Firefighters were trying to contain the fire early Monday morning, he added. Meanwhile, residents, workers and health providers in the area were evacuated.

Social media footage showed what appeared to be an inferno erupting in the sky on Sunday. People shouted “Ay, Dios mio!” — or “Oh my God!” – as they retreated from them balcony. Some ran inside Panic A huge fireball turned the sky orange and gave off heat like an oven. Night had suddenly turned into day, some reported.

“Currently the situation is very complicated at the #Matanzas Supertanker base. The explosions continue. This place cannot be accessed,” Ministry of Energy and Mines Tweeted early monday

Heavy black smoke could be seen billowing from the facility late Friday, in a plume that stretched about 93 miles west of Havana and out to sea, local officials said. Meteorologist Elior Pilla Farinas said on Twitter. The risk increased as electrical storms developed over the weekend poisonous showers, Cuba’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment warned. Government agencies It also suggested using a mask to prevent inhalation of dangerous particles.

The situation prompted the island’s government to ask for help from so-called “friendly countries” with experience in the oil sector. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel thanked Venezuela, Mexico, Russia, Nicaragua, Argentina and Chile on Saturday. Offer. That day, from the crew Mexico And Venezuela came to join the firefighting operations.

The United States also offered “technical guidance,” Díaz-Canel said — though it’s unclear whether Cuba has accepted the help. Relations between the US and Cuba have remained intact Dragged Since the late 1950s, when Fidel Castro established a Soviet-allied communist state. Since then, economic and trade sanctions have become the norm—although the severity of sanctions has varied with presidential administrations. Last year brought another round Approval After the Cuban government violently suppressed the wave peaceful protest – which began due to the island’s deteriorating living conditions, power outages, and shortages of food and medicine.

However, the US Embassy in Cuba took note of this Twitter That “US law authorizes US agencies and organizations to provide disaster relief and response in Cuba.”

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But as of early Monday, crews were still struggling to contain the blaze — a dire situation in a country already grappling with regular, hours-long power outages. Cuba’s electrical grid was already damaged by rotting equipment, dependence on Venezuelan oil and lack of maintenance, Miami Herald Reported. There was a demand for electricity on Sunday According to the President, beyond the capacity of the nation office.

It’s still unclear how much oil was wasted in the fire – but for many, the scene it created was unbelievable.

“It looks like a battlefield. I can’t believe what I’m seeing with my eyes,” one Matanzas resident told an AmericaTV reporter. Mario J. Penton.

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