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A fire broke out by a lightning bolt in An oil storage facility in Cuba The Cuban authorities announced today, Saturday, the death of an unknown person and the injury of 121 others, including five in critical condition.
The Matanzas Supertanker base in the Cuban city of Matanzas was hit by explosions and uncontrolled flames began during a thunderstorm Friday night. Authorities said the fire left 17 firefighters missing.
About 800 people were evacuated from the Dubruk neighborhood closest to the fire.
Cuban officials said they had sought help from international experts in “friendly countries” with experience in the oil sector.
Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio said the United States had offered technical assistance to put out the fire. He wrote on Twitter that the offer is “in the hands of specialists for due coordination.”
Then President Miguel Diaz-Canel thanked Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, Nicaragua, Argentina and Chile for their offers of assistance. A support plane from Mexico arrived in Cuba on Saturday evening.
According to the official Cuban News Agency, lightning strike One tank, ignited a fire that later spread to a second tank. Military helicopters flew overhead, pouring water on the fire as a thick plume of black smoke rose from the facility and spread westward more than 62 miles toward the city of Havana.
Roberto de la Torre, Matanzas’ head of fire operations, said firefighters were spraying water on intact tanks to try to keep them cool to try to prevent the fire from spreading further.
The fire comes amid a fuel shortage in the country. It was not yet clear how much oil was burned or at risk at the storage facility, which includes eight giant oil tanks used to fuel power plants.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.