Fire after lighting strike on crude oil storage facility in Cuba leaves dozens injured

Cuban military helicopters are seen battling a fire at the Matanzas Super Tanker Base, about 60 miles east of Havana, on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Cuban Energy Ministry/Twitter

Aug. 6 (UPI) — A massive fire at a crude oil storage facility in Cuba was sparked by a lightning strike on Friday and has led to dozens of injuries, authorities said Saturday.

The Cuban Energy Ministry said in a statement to Twitter that the fire broke out around 7 p.m. Friday in storage tank 52 at the Matanzas Super Tanker Base, about 60 miles east of Havana, and spread to a second tank by Saturday morning.

Photos shared by the ministry showed flames coming from the facility as black smoke billowed into the sky on Saturday while military helicopters tried to put out the blaze.

No deaths have been reported but officials in Matanzas said in a statement that at least 67 patients have been injured, including three critically, and 17 firefighters have gone missing.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez said in a statement that it is “urgent” to find the missing firefighters and their families.

He was pictured visiting people injured at a local hospital. Liván Arronte Cruz, the country’s energy minister, was injured during the fire, the president’s office said in a separate statement.

“I feel good and very soon I will be back in the front line of combat. Thanks to everyone,” Cruz said in a statement released by the president’s office.

Officials said the fire did not impact the nearby Thermoelectric Powerplant Antonio Guiteras, one of the island nation’s primary power plants which contributes to the national electricity system.

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