International News

Tank farm fire in Cuba “under control”

#Tank #farm #fire #Cuba #control

Firefighters said Wednesday that a days-long blaze that engulfed a fuel depot was finally under control, though not yet extinguished.

The fire, which broke out on Friday after lightning struck one of the tanks at the depot outside the western city of Matanzas, left a 60-year-old firefighter dead and 14 colleagues missing, authorities said were feared dead.

“We can now say that the fire is under control,” said deputy fire chief Alexander Avalos Jorge.

Four of the eight tanks at the site – each with a capacity of 50 million liters of fuel – collapsed during the fire, which injured more than 100 people and 22 are still being treated in hospital.

“Today we feel calmer,” Avalos said, although he revealed some fires were still burning and that they will not be extinguished on Wednesday.

Cuba has received support from Venezuela and Mexico, both of which have sent firefighters, fire safety experts, equipment and materials.

Earlier Wednesday, the crew of a Mexican helicopter battling the fire said it was beginning to be under control.

Images provided by the helicopter crew showed less smoke from one of the burning tanks than in previous days, while the crew said the flames that had engulfed another tank were virtually extinguished.

From the town of Matanzas, about four kilometers from the depot, less smoke and flames could be seen than in the previous days, AFP reporters noted.

On Tuesday, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel told reporters that once the flames have been extinguished and the temperature has dropped, “we will be able to go inside and recover the victims,” ​​referring to the missing firefighters.

“It will be a very difficult moment. We must be prepared to support these families.”

Built in the 1980s and modernized several times, the Matanzas depot supplies the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric power plant, the largest in the communist country.

The facility resumed activities Wednesday after a two-day shutdown due to contaminated water caused by the warehouse fire.

The disaster comes at a time when Cuba — with an aging power grid and persistent fuel shortages — is facing growing difficulties in meeting its energy needs.

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