HAVANA — Lightning struck a crude oil storage facility on the northern coast of Cuba, igniting a hearth that on Saturday had left dozens of individuals injured, 17 firefighters lacking and prompted the evacuation of some 800 individuals, in accordance with the authorities.
Pictures of the fireplace on the Matanzas Supertanker Base, in Matanzas Province, 60 miles east of Havana, the capital, had been shared by the Cuban Vitality Ministry on social media and present monumental flames rising from the ability, with plumes of smoke blackening the sky.
Army helicopters had been seen making an attempt to douse the inferno as dozens of firefighters rushed to the scene.
The hearth started at one oil tank throughout a thunderstorm on Friday night, in accordance with state information media, and unfold to a second tank early on Saturday morning. That tank was estimated to carry some 52,000 cubic meters of gasoline oil, or over 13 million gallons.
As of Saturday afternoon, there have been no reported deaths however 77 individuals had been hospitalized, in accordance with Matanzas authorities officers. The 17 firefighters reportedly went lacking Saturday morning simply because the second tank exploded round 5 a.m.
The bottom, which shops oil for vitality manufacturing, is close to one among Cuba’s main energy crops. Already, the Caribbean island struggles with widespread energy blackouts because of power gasoline shortages and an ailing infrastructure in dire want of upkeep.
Whereas the lights are principally saved on within the capital, within the Cuban provinces the place 9 of the nation’s 11 million individuals reside, hourslong energy cuts have turn into a grueling a part of day by day life in latest months. And diesel shortages have motorists ready in line for days.
“It’s a structural downside with Cuba’s electrical energy system, which has been working for over 40 years with no scheduled capital upkeep,” stated Jorge Piñon, an vitality knowledgeable on the College of Texas, Austin. “That places in danger a complete collapse of the system with no brief time period resolution.”
The nation’s largest protests in a long time had been prompted final 12 months partly by energy outages, in addition to a scarcity of meals and medication within the nation, whose economic system has been arduous hit by each the pandemic and American sanctions.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel of Cuba visited the affected space on Saturday together with the nation’s prime minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz, touring hospitals and assembly with the wounded.
“The daybreak shall be lengthy and full of anguish, because it was final night time,” Mr. Díaz-Canel stated on Twitter. “There is no such thing as a precedent for a hearth of this magnitude on the Supertanker Base.”