Matanzas oil hearth: Cuba’s worst ever blaze introduced below regulate after burning for five days at depot, officers say

Firefighters on Tuesday in spite of everything overcame what officers described because the worst hearth in Cuba’s historical past that over 5 days destroyed 40% of the Caribbean island’s primary gas garage facility and led to huge blackouts.

Reuters witnesses reported the raging flames that ravaged a four-tank phase of the Matanzas tremendous tanker port had died down and the towering plumes of thick black smoke streaming from the world had been lowered and now most commonly grey.

Matanzas is Cuba’s greatest port for receiving crude oil and gas imports. Cuban heavy crude, in addition to gas oil and diesel saved in Matanzas in 10 large tanks, are principally used to generate electrical energy at the island.

Lightning struck one gas garage tank on Friday night time. The hearth unfold to a 2d via Sunday and engulfed the four-tank house on Monday, accompanied via large explosions and regardless of efforts via native firefighters supported via greater than 100 Mexican and Venezuelan reinforcements.

Firefighter Rafael Perez Garriga instructed Reuters at the steaming outskirts of the crisis that he worries the hearth would have an effect on the power situation within the nation.

“The scenario goes to be tougher. If the thermoelectric vegetation are provided with that oil, we’re going to have the entire international affected, it’s electrical energy and it impacts the entirety,” he stated.

A man fishes as smoke rises from the massive fire at a fuel depot in Matanzas, Cuba, on August 9, 2022.

The Communist-run nation, below heavy US sanctions, is all however bankrupt. Frequent blackouts and shortages of gas and different commodities already had created a nerve-racking scenario with scattered native protests following last summer’s historic unrest in July.

On Tuesday, extra helicopters joined the hassle to place out the hearth, at the side of two fireboats despatched via Mexico at the side of heavy firefighting apparatus.

“We have now not but been in a position to get entry to the have an effect on house because of the prerequisites. There is combustion and so we can not chance our lives for now,” Perez stated round midday.

Smoke rises from a deadly fire at a large oil storage facility in Matanzas, Cuba on August 9.

Later within the day firefighters for the primary time had been coming into the world and spraying foam and water at the nonetheless smoldering stays.

“Today we’ve got controlled to regulate the hearth,” Rolando Vecino, head of delivery for the Ministry of the Interior, stated on state-run tv from the scene.

Officials have now not stated how a lot gas has been misplaced within the hearth which destroyed all 4 tanks. Authorities mentioned that no oil had infected the within sight Matanzas Bay. Still they warned citizens as a ways away as Havana to put on face mask and keep away from acid rain because of the large plume of smoke the hearth generated.

A firefighter helicopter drops water on a massive fire at a fuel depot in Matanzas, Cuba, on August 8.

One firefighter died and 14 went lacking on Saturday when the second one tank blew up, government stated on Tuesday, correcting an previous determine of 16 lacking. Five others stay in vital situation.

Mario Sabines, governor of the Matanzas province, about 60 miles (130 km) from Havana, quipped the flames unfold like an “Olympic torch” from one tank to the following, turning every right into a “caldron.”

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