Firefighters have lastly overcame what officers described because the worst blaze in Cuba’s historical past that over 5 days destroyed 40% of the Caribbean island’s predominant gas storage facility and brought on blackouts.
Raging flames that ravaged a four-tank section of the Matanzas tremendous tanker port had died down on Tuesday and the towering plumes of thick black smoke streaming from the realm have been diminished and now largely grey.
Matanzas is Cuba’s largest port for receiving crude oil and gas imports. Cuban heavy crude, in addition to gas oil and diesel saved in Matanzas in 10 big tanks, are primarily used to generate electrical energy on the island.
Lightning struck one gas storage tank on Friday night. The fireplace unfold to a second by Sunday and engulfed the four-tank space on Monday, accompanied by big explosions and regardless of efforts by native firefighters supported by greater than 100 Mexican and Venezuelan reinforcements.
Firefighter Rafael Perez Garriga informed Reuters on the steaming outskirts of the catastrophe that he worries the hearth would influence the facility scenario 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 world affected, it’s electrical energy and it impacts the whole lot,” he stated.
The Communist-run nation, underneath heavy US sanctions, is all however bankrupt. Frequent blackouts and shortages of gasoline and different commodities already had created a tense scenario with scattered native protests following final summer season’s historic unrest in July.
On Tuesday, extra helicopters joined the hassle to place out the hearth, together with two fireboats despatched by Mexico together with heavy firefighting gear.
“We’ve not but been in a position to entry the influence space because of the situations. There may be combustion and so we can not threat our lives for now,” Perez stated round midday.
Later within the day firefighters for the primary time have been coming into the realm and spraying foam and water on the nonetheless smoldering stays.
“Immediately we’ve managed to manage the hearth,” Rolando Vecino, head of transport for the Ministry of the Inside, stated on state-run tv from the scene.
Officers haven’t stated how a lot gas has been misplaced within the hearth which destroyed all 4 tanks. Authorities said that no oil had contaminated the close by Matanzas Bay. Nonetheless they warned residents as far-off as Havana to put on face masks and keep away from acid rain because of the large plume of smoke the hearth generated.
One firefighter died and 14 went lacking on Saturday when the second tank blew up, authorities stated on Tuesday, correcting an earlier determine of 16 lacking. 5 others stay in essential 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 subsequent, turning every right into a “caldron”.