Fire at Cuban Petroleum Terminal – All Updates
August 7, 2022
A large tank fire at the Matanzas petroleum complex has claimed at least one life and left 17 people missing. Cuba has appealed to its neighbors for assistance in putting out the fire. The Matanzas Supertanker Base, an import station for fuel located about 50 miles to the east of Havana, is where the fire started on Friday after lightning struck a tank there.
Firefighting units arrived on the scene and started working to extinguish the fire. But early Saturday morning, it spread to a nearby tank, causing an explosion. According to Cuba's health ministry, 17 firefighters "who were in the nearest area trying to prevent the spread" remain missing, and 121 people were hurt, including five with life-threatening injuries. The location of one unidentified body has been made.
Liván Arronte Cruz, the minister of energy for Cuba, is reportedly one of the injured workers.
La Organización Panamericana de la Salud y la Organización Mundial de la Salud lamentan profundamente el incendio de grandes proporciones que desde el pasado 5 de agosto ocurre en la provincia de Matanzas. pic.twitter.com/lNfk3iIAM2
— OPS/OMS Cuba (@opscuba) August 7, 2022
Cuba's president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, expressed gratitude for the U.S.'s willingness to provide technical assistance in combating the fire in a brief statement. For their "solidarity and material aid," he thanked the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, Nicaragua, Argentina, and Chile.
To aid with the containment attempt, petroleum firefighting teams have been sent from both Mexico and Venezuela. The U.S. Embassy in Havana stressed in a brief statement that "We want to make clear that U.S. law enables U.S. entities and organizations to offer disaster aid and response in Cuba."
Satellite data reveals that the end of the smoke and flame plume carried downwind as far as Havana as a result of the fire. Locals reported smelling sulphur, which is typical of the heavy fuel oil in the tank farm.
For Cuba's oil-fired power plants, fuel oil is stored at the Matanzas facility. Rolling blackouts have become routine in Cuba, where the country's electrical grid is already stressed from years of underinvestment. This is causing growing unrest among the public. Despite the fact that six tanks are still intact, the incident has caused some uncertainty over the supply chain.
Fire Expands to Fourth Fuel Tank
August 8, 2022
There are now four enormous storage tanks involved in the fire at Cuba's Matanzas tank farm, making the firefighting effort more difficult and complex. After roughly 40 hours of burning, the second tank fell late on Sunday night, causing a sudden discharge of fuel and an accelerated pace of combustion. According to images on social media, the explosion's light could be seen all the way from the Havana boardwalk.
Another enormous explosion happened early on Monday morning when the fire spread to a third tank. Smoke initially hid the tank and made assessment challenging, but Cuban officials later acknowledged the incident.
— El Toque (@eltoquecom) August 8, 2022
A portable fire pump with a flow rate of 5,000 GPM has been sent by the Venezuelan government to aid in the operation. It will be put up and utilized to spray foam firefighting on the tank fire. Additionally, workers are constructing earthen berms to catch fuel spillage and stop the fire from spreading. In the meantime, Cuban authorities have sent crop-dusting helicopters and aircraft to drop water over the fire in limited amounts.