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Lightning strike triggers oil blaze — RT World News


Several firefighters fear death after another explosion rocks burning Cuban oil depot

The Cuban government has asked for help from “friendly countries” as firefighters struggle to contain a blaze, which rages at a major oil storage facility in the city of Matanzas for a second day, following a thunderstorm Friday night.

Only one person has been officially confirmed dead, but 17 firefighters were reported missing on Saturday, following a powerful explosion at the supertanker base in Matanzas. At least 121 people were injured, five of them in critical condition. Hundreds of civilians were forced to evacuate the area.

The fire was first sparked by a lightning strike that struck one of the facility’s eight massive fuel tanks on Friday. On Saturday, the blaze spread to a second reservoir, despite military helicopters constantly dropping seawater and firefighters pouring water over the remaining reservoirs to keep them cool.

Struggling to contain the fire on its own, the Havana government asked “help and advice from friendly countries with experience in fuel”, according to the office of President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

“We express our deep gratitude to the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, Chile… who quickly offered material assistance in the face of this complex situation,” he added. Diaz Canel tweeted Saturday. The Cuban leader also acknowledged a “offer of technical advice from the United States”, saying Havana “appreciate” Proposal.

The first flights with help from Venezuela and Mexico were due to arrive in Matanzas, a city of about 140,000 people some 90 kilometers east of Havana, on Saturday evening, according to local media.

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