Cuba oil fire under control after 5 days — Analysis
The inferno destroyed nearly half of Cuba’s largest fuel depot and caused blackouts across the island
A massive fire at a Cuban oil facility has finally been extinguished after burning for five days, leaving the fuel storage site devastated amid fears the damage will impact the island’s ability to produce electricity.
Officials from the Interior Ministry appeared on state television Tuesday to declare that firefighters have defeated the fire at Matanzas’ oil facility. However, they did not provide any details about how fuel had been lost in the past five days nor an estimate of the overall damage.
“Today we have managed to control the fire,” said Rolando Vecino, the ministry’s head of transport, while standing at the scene.
The fire was sparked by a lightning strike last Friday, which immediately ignited one of the site’s eight fuel tanks. On Saturday the fire had reached a second tank and caused a string of explosions. Two more containers were also damaged in the subsequent days.
One firefighter died and 14 others went missing following Saturday’s blasts, and at least 125 were injured in the blaze, five of whom remain in critical condition.
Due to the flames, Cuba’s government-run power company said it was forced to shut down a major plant servicing the island’s western region on Monday afternoon, prompting reports of blackouts.
Rafael Perez Garriga, a first responder to the fire at the scene, spoke with Reuters “The situation is going to be more difficult”Because of the effects on electricity
“If the thermoelectric plants are supplied with that oil [previously stored at Matanzas], we are going to have the whole world affected, it is electricity and it affects everything,”He added.
The embattled Communist country is under heavy American sanctions. There are frequent fuel shortages, blackouts, and other problems in certain regions. This has led to a string of violent protests last year.
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