Lightning ignites oil tank farm in Cuba, dozens injured
HAVANA – Lightning struck a crude oil storage tank in the city of Matanzas, sparking a fire that led to four explosions that injured more than 40 people, Cuban authorities said on Saturday.
Firefighters and other professionals are still trying to put out the blaze at Matanzas Super Landing Base, which began on a stormy night Friday, the Department of Energy and Mines tweeted.
Cuba’s official news agency said the lightning struck one tank on fire and the flames then spread to a second tank.
The accident happened as Cuba was struggling with fuel shortages. There is no immediate information on how much oil has burned or is in danger at the tank farm, which stores oil used to generate electricity.
Faustino Pérez hospital said it was treating 49 people, including two with serious injuries, the official cubadebate portal said.
“I was in the gym when I felt the first bang. A terrible column of smoke and flames rose in the sky,” resident Adiel Gonzalez told The Associated Press by phone. “The city has a strong sulfur smell.”
Authorities said the Dubrocq neighborhood closest to the fire had been evacuated, while Gonzalez added that some people had decided to move out of the Versailles district, which is a bit further from the tank farm.
There were a lot of ambulances, police and fire trucks, he said.
Matanzas, which has about 140,000 inhabitants, is 100 kilometers (62 mi) from Havana, on Matnzas Bay.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel arrived at the fire site early Saturday, officials said.
Andrea Rodríguez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ARodriguezAP