A third crude tank caught fire and collapsed at Cuba’s main oil terminal in Matanzas, as an oil spill spread flames from a second tank that caught fire two days earlier.
Cuba had made progress fighting off the raging flames during the weekend after drawing on help from Mexico and Venezuela.
Mario Sabines, governor of the Matanzas province, compared the situation to an “Olympic torch” going from one tank to the next, with flames and billowing black smoke making tackling the problem “complicated.”
One firefighter has died, and 16 people are missing, all from Saturday’s explosion at the second storage tank. More than 120 firefighters have been injured.
Matanzas is Cuba’s largest port for receiving crude oil and fuel imports. Cuban heavy crude, fuel oil, and diesel stored in Matanzas are mainly used to generate electricity on the island.
The heavily US-sanctioned country has been suffering from blackouts, gas, and other shortages, and the fire could affect the discharge of a tanker carrying Russian crude next week.
A tanker carrying Russian crude to Matanzas, identified by Refinitiv Eikon monitoring service, is unlikely to be able to discharge next week even if docks are not affected by the fire because of possible damage to tanks, pipelines, and valves, analysts said.
At noon on Monday, authorities announced the country’s most important power plant, located about a kilometer from the fire, had been shut down due to low water pressure in the area.
For more on this story, please consider these sources:
- Third fuel tank collapses as fire rages at Cuba oil terminal Al Jazeera English
- Fire at Cuba oil facility leaves 1 dead, 125 hurt and 17 missing The Washington Post
- Explosions, raging fires continue at Cuban oil facility WPLG Local 10
- Devastating fire may force Cuba to resort to floating oil storage Reuters Canada
- Cuba explosion: Video shows explosion at fuel depot KHOU 11