Baltimore Sun

Deadly blaze still burning at tank farm in Cuba

- By Andrea Rodriguez

HAVANA — Cuban firefighte­rs were joined by special teams sent by Mexico and Venezuela on Sunday as they battled for a second day to control a fire blazing at a big oil tank farm in the western province of Matanzas.

The blaze began Friday night when lightning struck a storage tank during a thunder storm, and the fire spread to a second tank early Saturday, triggering a series of explosions, officials have said.

“The mission of the day is to keep the third tank cold,” in hopes of preventing the flames from spreading into more of the site, provincial Gov. Mario Sabines said.

Most of the fuel held in the tank where the fire initially started was believed to have been consumed, officials said.

Authoritie­s said a body found at the site Saturday had been identified as firefighte­r Juan Carlos Santana, 60.

Officials previously said a group of 17 firefighte­rs had gone missing while trying to quell flames, but there was no word if he was one of those.

Conditions were still too dangerous to mount a search for the missing firefighte­rs, officials said.

A total of 122 people were treated for injuries, including five that officials said were in critical condition.

The governor said 4,946 people had been evacuated, mostly from the Dubrocq neighborho­od, which is next to the Matanzas Supertanke­r Base in Matanzas city. The facility’s eight huge storage tanks hold oil used to fuel electricit­y generation.

Dense black smoke billowed up from the tank farm and spread westward more than 60 miles to Havana. The Ministry of Science and Technology said the cloud contained sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and other toxic substances.

 ?? YAMIL LAGE/GETTY-AFP ?? Motorists watch a plume of smoke billow from the Matanzas supertanke­r base Sunday in Cuba.
YAMIL LAGE/GETTY-AFP Motorists watch a plume of smoke billow from the Matanzas supertanke­r base Sunday in Cuba.

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