Explosions at Cuba’s oil deposits leave at least 17 missing


A massive fire in an industrial area of ​​the city of Matanzas, west of Cuba, which started on Friday (5), left at least 67 people injured. Another 17 are missing so far, according to rescue workers.

The fire started after lightning struck an oil deposit at the site. On Saturday morning, another warehouse exploded after the flames spread. The Cuban regime said it had asked the governments of allied countries to help contain the fire.

Of those injured, three are in critical condition, and another 15 in serious condition, according to information from the island’s Ministry of Health shared on a social network. Among the missing were firefighters.

Images of the surroundings of the site, 100 kilometers from the capital Havana, show large clouds of smoke. The governor of Matanzas, Mario Sabines, reported that 800 people had been evacuated from the region.

According to information published by the official newspaper Granma, the first deposit hit contained about 26,000 cubic meters of oil, which represents half of the site’s maximum capacity. The second, hit by the flames, was 52,000 cubic meters.

Official portals said that Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel and Prime Minister Manuel Marrero had supervised the search and containment of the fire since dawn local time. Also according to Granma, the incident occurred after a failure of the lightning rod at the site.

Danger Ricardo, 37, a welder working at the site, told the AFP news agency that such an explosion was unprecedented and that there were no reports of similar failures in the lightning rod system. Local deposits supply the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric plant, the largest in Cuba.

The fire occurs in the midst of yet another serious crisis on the Caribbean island involving energy shortages, exacerbated by precarious conditions at the thermoelectric plants. Since May, regime authorities have predicted blackouts every 12 hours, which has led to protests.

The island currently has an average power distribution capacity of 2,500 megawatts, insufficient to meet demand at peak consumption times, which reaches 2,900 megawatts, according to official data.

Yuney Hernández, 32, told AFP that she and her family abandoned their home in La Ganadera, about 2 kilometers from the fire site, and returned shortly afterward, when the situation seemed under control. Two hours later, however, more explosions were heard. “It looked like pieces were falling out of the warehouse,” she reported.

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