Cuba calls for help, faced with the gigantic fire of an oil depot

Cuba calls for help, faced with the gigantic fire of an oil depot

< p class="sc-v64krj-0 knjbxw">A fire at a fuel depot in Matanzas, Cuba.

Cuba received offers of assistance from many countries after his call for help in dealing with a massive fire at an oil depot struck by lightning which sparked explosions in which at least one person was killed, 121 injured and 17 still missing.

Some 1,900 people were evacuated from the disaster area in the suburb of Mantanzas, a town of 140,000 people 100 kilometers east of Havana, from where the huge plume of smoke was visible darkness obscuring the sky.

A body was found at the crash site, said Luis Armando Wong, director of Health for Matanzas, during the incident. a press conference.

Five injured are in critical condition, three in very serious condition and 28 seriously injured, according to a latest report communicated on the presidency's Twitter account.

Among those injured is Energy Minister Livan Arronte.

The 17 missing persons are firefighters who were in the area closest to the fire when an explosion has occurred.

The fire started on Friday evening when lightning struck one of the tanks at the oil depot. In the early morning, the fire then spread to a second tank.

Faced with the difficult control of the fire which could take time, according to the president Cuban Miguel Diaz-Canel, Cuba has asked for help and advice from friendly countries with experience in the oil sector.

Responses came quickly and the Cuban president tweeted his deep gratitude to the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, Nicaragua, Argentina and Chile, who quickly offered help. in solidarity with this complex situation.

We are also grateful for the offer of technical assistance from the United States, he added. Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio said the US proposal is already in the hands of specialists for proper coordination.

The U.S. Embassy in Havana said it is in contact with Cuban officials and clarified that U.S. law allows U.S. entities and organizations to provide disaster relief and response in Cuba. The United States imposes a sanctions regime on the single ruling party on the communist island. fire on Saturday, with water hoses approached using cranes.

The fire started late Friday night when lightning struck one of the tanks at the oil depot. In the early morning, the fire then spread to a second reservoir.

According to Granma there was a failure of the lightning rod system who could not withstand the power of the electric shock.

Ginelva Hernandez, 33, said she, her husband and three children were sleeping when they were awakened by a violent explosion. We threw ourselves out of bed. When we went out into the street, the sky was yellow, she told AFP. At that time, people's fear was out of control.

Laura Martinez, a resident near the disaster area, told AFP that she felt the explosion, like a shock wave.

Hearing a first explosion, Yuney Hernandez, 32, and her children fled their home two kilometers from the depot. They returned a few hours later and then heard more explosions in the early hours of the morning and sounds like pieces of the tank were falling.

Swimmers enjoy the ocean with the fire in the background.

According to Asbel Leal, director of trade and supply at the Cuban Petroleum Union (Cupet), the first tank contained about 26,000 cubic meters of domestic crude, or about 50% of its maximum capacity at the time. of the disaster. The second tank contained 52,000 cubic meters of fuel oil.

According to him, Cuba had never been confronted with a fire of the magnitude of today.

The deposit supplies the Antonio Guiteras power plant, the largest in Cuba, but pumping to the plant has not stopped, Granma said.

This fire comes as the island has been facing supply difficulties since May to meet the increased demand for electricity due to the summer heat.

The authorities must carry out rotating cuts of up to 12 hours a day in certain regions of the country, triggering the anger of exasperated residents who have organized around twenty demonstrations.

The obsolescence of the island's eight thermoelectric power plants, maintenance work and the lack of fuel are hampering electricity production.

Cuba currently has an average electricity distribution capacity of 2,500 megawatts, which is insufficient for household demand at the time. es peak, which reaches 2,900 megawatts, according to authorities.

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