Flames engulfed a fourth tank at an oil storage facility in western Cuba on Tuesday as the raging blaze consumes critical fuel reserves on an island grappling with a growing energy crisis.
Firefighters and specialists from Mexico and Venezuela helped fight the blaze in Matanzas province with boats, planes and helicopters as they sprayed containers with foam, a first for crews as the sweltering temperatures had prevented them from doing so earlier.
Cuban President Miguel Daz-Canel said crews had taken control of the area where the fire was burning and were taking further steps to extinguish it.
These are not easy tasks, he said. It is an intense and complex incident.
The Matanzas supertanker base fire killed at least one person and injured 125 others, with 14 other firefighters still missing.
It also forced authorities to evacuate more than 4,900 people and shut down a key thermoelectric plant on Monday after running out of water, raising concerns about further blackouts.
The injured were treated primarily for burns and smoke inhalation. More than 20 people remain hospitalized, five of them in critical condition.
This situation worries us a lot at the moment because there are problems with electricity, with the environment, with the people who still live here, said Adneris Daz, a 22-year-old cafe owner.
The eight-tank facility plays a crucial role in Cuba’s electrical system: it operates a vast pipeline that receives Cuban crude oil which is then transported to thermoelectric plants that generate electricity.
It also serves as an unloading and transshipment center for imported crude oil, heating oil and diesel.
The facility caught fire Friday night after lightning struck one of its tanks, causing several explosions as it spread over the weekend.
The first tank was at 50% capacity and contained nearly 883,000 cubic feet of fuel.
The second tank was full.
Authorities have yet to provide a damage estimate.
The blaze comes just days after the government announced planned power outages for the capital city of Havana amid a sweltering summer.
The economic effects are clear,” said Tahimi Snchez, a 48-year-old cafe owner.
“They are there, we will notice them and we will see them, but we are confident, and we will do well.
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