At least 17 firefighters are missing during the attempt to put out the fire caused by the explosion of a fuel tank in Matanzas (western Cuba)the Cuban dictatorship reported this Saturday.
The island regime has requested international help and advice with experience in the oil issue while the flames continue.
Until now, the wounded amount to 77ten more than estimated minutes before by the Minister of Public Health, José Ángel Portalwho had specified three critical injuries, three very serious, 12 serious, 20 less serious and 29 minor, according to statements collected by the Cuban Journal.
The affected crude deposits, with a capacity of 50,000 cubic meters, are located in the Super tanker base of an industrial area of Matanzasnear the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric plant, one of the largest in Cuba.
The fire is not yet controlled, according to official media..
The dictator of the country, Miguel Diaz-Canel; and his prime minister, Manuel Marrero, they traveled to Matanzas at dawn to closely follow the evolution of the event and visited the wounded at the nearby Faustino Pérez provincial hospital.
According to state television, some families from Matanzas were evacuated in the neighborhoods of the city closest to the affected industrial areadue to the risk of the flames spreading.
A large column of thick black smoke extends from the scene of the incident and is already visible in Havanaa hundred kilometers from there.
The fire started on Friday around 7:00 p.m. local time (23:00 GMT) when an electrical discharge hit one of the base’s eight crude oil tanks.
Then a fire broke out that affected a warehouse and that at first seemed controlled, according to official media on the island.
Nevertheless, the strong wind made the extinction work difficult and carried the flames to a second tank and, around 7:00 local time this Saturday (11:00 GMT), caused a new large explosion in another tank.
The fire occurs at a time when the island has been facing power generation difficulties since last May. due to the obsolescence of its eight thermoelectric plants, breakdowns and scheduled maintenance, lack of fossil fuels and greater demand due to the summer heat.
The generation deficit has caused blackouts of up to 12 hours a day in some regions of the countrywhich have caused irritation in the population and even some protests in rural towns, where people have banged cauldrons shouting slogans at night.
This very night, and in the midst of the event at the fuel plant, new protests were registered in some localities of the island They were without electricity.
The country’s electrical system currently has an average power distribution capacity of 2,500 megawatts, insufficient for the demand of households at times of maximum consumption, which reaches 2,900 megawatts, according to official information.