Lightning causes explosion in oil storage tank in Cuba

According to reports from Cuba, the tank was filled to 50% of its maximum capacity, the lightning rod could not protect the power of the discharge that fell on the dome of the facility, which started the fire. The injured are being treated at the Faustino Pérez Provincial Hospital, and 17 people are missing.

On the night of this Friday, August 5, lightning struck an oil storage tank, located at the Supertankers Base, in Matanzas, Cuba; causing a large fire around 7:00 p.m. and at least four explosions, island media reported.

At least 67 people were injured and are being treated at the Faustino Pérez Provincial Hospital in Cuba, the Minister of Public Health, José Ángel Portal Miranda, indicated on the morning of this Saturday, August 6.

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“Three critical, three very serious, 12 serious, 20 less serious and 29 minor,” the official detailed; while 17 people are missing, “which would be firefighters who were trying to prevent the spread,” he clarified.

The president of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, visited the hospital this Saturday morning where the wounded are treated. He then held a meeting with part of his cabinet, in which he gave instructions to deal with the damage from the incident, including: “request help and advice from friendly countries, with experience in the oil issue.”

“There is no history of a fire of such magnitudes at the Super Tanker Base. We continue in Matanzas. We visited the injured and held a meeting with the provincial authorities. It is urgent to find the firefighters who disappeared in the explosion and attend to their families. The situation is difficult, but we are also going to get out of this,” said Díaz-Canel, on the bird’s social network.

The incident

According to the reports issued by the island’s administration, the tank was “half full”, with some 26,000 cubic meters of oil, about 50% of its maximum capacity, and the lightning rod could not protect the power of the discharge that fell into the dome of the facility, which started the fire.

The fire spread and reached at least three crude oil tanks, according to official reports.

Evert Eduardo Díaz, an official from Matanzas, Cuba, told the newspaper gramma that to stop the flames it was necessary to bring water from the bay.

Firefighters and rescuers from Matanzas, Mayabeque, Artemisa and Havana worked throughout the night to contain the flames and prevent further explosions.

The fire still causes a large column of smoke visible from anywhere in the Cuban city of Matanzas.

The population near the area of ​​the fire has been evacuated, provincial authorities explained to Díaz-Canel.

* Read: Three dead and one seriously injured after lightning strikes near the White House

Energy crisis in Cuba

Currently, Cuba is facing a growing energy crisis that has generated long blackouts and power cuts, which for months have affected different locations in the country, sometimes with up to 10 consecutive hours without electricity.

This Friday, August 5, the Cuban state company Unión Eléctrica (UNE) predicted service cuts for much of the day due to an energy deficit of 28% of the generation capacity, during the hours of greatest demand, one of the highest rates of the last few months.

Cuba relies heavily on foreign oil to produce energy (thermoelectric plants generate two-thirds of the electricity) and its main supplier, Venezuela, has notably reduced its shipments.

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With information from CNN, Univision, Gramma Y EFE

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