Tuesday, October 4

Thousands of people evacuated due to toxic gases in a fire in Cuba

Forty-eight after the fire started at the Supertanker Base in Matanzas (Cuba), it had not been extinguished. The fire continued out of control and, until the closing of this edition, had left a balance of 16 firefighters missing, one deceased, and 122 people injured, of which 98 have already been discharged and 24 remain hospitalized – five in a state critical and three serious.

The Minister of Public Health (MINSAP), José Ángel Portal Miranda, explained that “we are transferring the most complex cases to Havana to be able to cure them, to be able to save their lives.” The Governor of Matanzas, Mario Sabines, assured that the wounded were, for the most part, “comrades who were fighting with us all morning to extinguish the fire. it hurt us a lot And it still hurts.”

According to the official version, the fire started on Friday after lightning struck one of the fuel tanks. The director of the Matanzas Territorial Division of Fuel Marketing, Rigel Rodríguez Cubells, explained that the Super Tanker Base has a lightning rod system but, apparently, the discharge was higher than what it could protect.

A report from the official Cuban News Agency (ACN) stated that the national crude oil tank impacted by the electrical discharge, and now by the fire, was at 50% of its capacity, which is 50,000 meters cubic. So far the fire has hit two of the eight tanks. The authorities assured yesterday that a third tank has not been damaged by the fire, although it was in danger of exploding.

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“Don’t expect it to go out unless you have a very large amount of resources,” warned firefighter and fire specialist Rolando Isaac Nogueira Castro.

There had never been a fire of such complexity in Cuba. The cloud of smoke extends to Havana and four thousand people have been evacuated

“Many countries do not have the capacity to deal with fires of this magnitude, and the tanks are left to burn in a controlled way. In other words, the tank can no longer be saved and the fuel less, so in order not to risk the lives of the firefighters, a spread is prevented and the fire is allowed to burn. When the fuel is used up, then it goes out,” said Nogueira, who admitted that until now Cuba had never seen a fire of this kind. magnitude and complexity.

While the Matanzas authorities assured that there was no danger of the fire spreading to the city, the cloud of smoke spread, even reaching Havana, located more than a hundred kilometers from the place. Faced with the danger due to the toxic gases it releases, inhabitants of the city of Matanzas began to leave their homes by their own means. The official press reported this Saturday that more than 4,000 people had been evacuated already from the areas near the fire.

toxic cloud

The Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment also reported today, at a press conference, that the fire had caused an increase in gas emissions and, therefore, pollution. The cloud has sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide, among other substances, that are falling on Matanzas, Mayabeque and Havana. The danger increases in case of rain. For these reasons, the CITMA has called on the inhabitants of the endangered areas to keep their sanitary masks and not expose themselves to the rain.

For its part, this morning the oil and natural gas company Cupet began to evacuate 520 cubic meters of fuel from the Supertanker Base. The ship María Cristina arrived at the port of Matanzas, with the capacity to evacuate six thousand tons of fuel.

the official press He has barely made reference to the 16 disappeared, all firefighters, some of them young men from the military service between 17 and 21 years old, sent to put out the fire despite not having experiences of this type. President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who visited Matanzas yesterday, declared that “there are still hard days of work; To the extent that we can put out the fire, we will be able to start the search for the disappeared.”

Meanwhile, the oil and natural gas company Cupet since early Sunday morning evacuated 520 cubic meters of fuel from the Supertanker Base, and the ship María Cristina arrived at the port of Matanzas, with the capacity to evacuate six thousand tons made out of fuel.


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