VIDEO: Burning oil base in Cuba, dozens injured
A large fire caused by lightning has been burning since last night at an oil base near the Cuban port of Matanzas.
After lightning struck an oil tanker at the base, another one exploded this morning.
Cuban state television reported that at least 67 people were injured in the second explosion, and 17 firefighters were missing. Civilians have already been evacuated from the area.
According to the announcement on Twitter by the Minister of Health, Jose Angel Portal, three of the injured are in critical condition, and another 12 people are in serious condition. Seven patients have been transferred to hospitals in the capital, Havana.
Different news agencies reported different figures on the number of injured. According to the information portal Cubadebate, quoted by TASS, they are at least 77. The portal refers to data from medical sources.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel arrived at the site, about 130 miles (XNUMX kilometers) east of Havana, around midnight. Before the second explosion, he tweeted that first responders were trying to stop the flames from spreading and a possible fuel leak into Matanzas Bay. In a later post, his office said Cuba was seeking advice from friendly countries on how to put out the fire.
By this morning, the fire is completely out of control, threatening other nearby reservoirs, and smoke has reached Havana.
Cuba suffers from daily power outages as well as fuel shortages, so the loss of fuel and storage capacity could further worsen the situation.
According to Jorge Piñon, director of the University of Texas at Austin's Energy and Environment Program for Latin America and the Caribbean, the base has eight large tanks, each with a capacity of 300.000 barrels.