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Matanzas: Big Explosion at the Supertanker Base

  • by:
  • German Trade and Investment Promotion Office in Cuba

Shortly after 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night, a loud explosion was heard in the industrial zone of Matanzas. The second fuel tank collapsed after almost 40 hours of combustion, causing a huge mass of fire that illuminated the entire city of Matanzas and could even be seen on Havana's Malecon. It was still not clear what the situation of the third fuel tank was.

On the night of Friday, August 5, a large fire broke out after a lightning strike on a crude oil tank at the Matanzas supertanker base, which is still not under control.  So far, the accident has claimed one life and 16 others are missing.

Three of the base's eight tanks were affected, resulting in the loss of millions of liters of crude oil and fuel oil stored in these tanks. Residents near the industrial area have been evacuated. Depending on how the situation evolves, further evacuations cannot be ruled out. However, the city is not in danger so far, according to authorities.

Meanwhile, firefighters, special army brigades, the Red Cross and other groups trained in firefighting and extinguishing are working around the clock to control the flames. Mexico and Venezuela sent technical brigades to support the firefighting efforts. Emergency services are mainly trying to cool the tanks to prevent the fire from spreading.

According to official reports, lightning struck one tank and caused a fire that then spread to a second tank. The accident occurred at a time when Cuba is facing fuel shortages and power outages are common.

There was no immediate information on the amount of oil burned or at risk at the storage facility. The fourth tank directly threatened by the fire has been emptied, which should reduce the risk of the fire spreading to this tank.