Cuban firefighters have been joined by Mexican and Venezuelan reinforcements on Sunday in battling a blaze on the Matanzas supertanker port and storage facility which threatens to chop off electrical energy provide throughout the island.
On Friday a lightning strike ignited one among eight tanks, with a capability of 300,000 barrels of petroleum merchandise, on the Matanzas facility, which receives crude oil, diesel and gas oil shipments from worldwide markets.
A second tank caught hearth on Saturday, injuring greater than 100 folks, together with first responders, in response to Reuters. Firefighters tried to chill the tanks with seawater to forestall additional explosions, in response to the Matanzas authorities.
The hearth on the port comes because the communist-ruled island has been struggling blackouts with energy vegetation failing from shortages of gas and a scarcity of upkeep.
The explosions despatched towering fireballs skyward and thick smoke billowed from the power. Officials reported 17 firefighters lacking after the preliminary explosion, earlier than 1000’s of residents have been evacuated from the area, round 100km east of Havana. The public well being ministry reported on Sunday that 24 folks have been nonetheless in hospital, with 5 in a important situation.
“There is no history of a fire of such magnitude at the supertanker base,” President Miguel Díaz-Canel mentioned on Saturday. “There are still hard days of work ahead . . . To the extent that we can put out the fire, we can start searching for the missing.”
Díaz-Canel thanked Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, Argentina and Chile for having “offered solidarity [and] material assistance in the face of this complex situation”. He additionally thanked the US for providing technical assist.
Teams skilled in combating gas fires arrived over the weekend from Mexico and Venezuela. Mexico despatched greater than 80 personnel from its army and state oil firm Pemex, together with three helicopters, whereas Venezuelan oil minister Tareck El Aissami introduced the nation was sending 35 specialists from state oil group PDVSA together with 20 tonnes of firefighting materials.
Fuel obtained and saved on the Matanzas supertanker base is used to energy six of Cuba’s eight thermoelectric vegetation, in response to Jorge Piñón, a Cuban vitality skilled on the University of Texas at Austin. “This is the cornerstone of Cuba’s oil logistics system,” Piñón mentioned.
The docks on the Matanzas services, on the north coast between the capital Havana and the resort of Varadero, haven’t been affected by the inferno, Piñón mentioned. However, he added: “If you don’t have a place to put the oil, what good are the docks?”
Cuba produces an estimated 40,000 barrels of oil day by day, however should import one other 80,000 — principally from Venezuela — to fulfill its wants, Piñón mentioned.