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17 missing, dozens injured as fire rages on Cuban oil tank farm

Nearly 80 people were killed in an out-of-control fire caused by a lightning strike at an oil storage facility in the city of Matanzas on Saturday, with four explosions and flames, according to Cuban officials. injured. 17 firefighters are missing.

Firefighters and other experts said Matanzas, who was on fire during Friday night's thunderstorm, was trying to contain the fire at the supertanker base, the Ministry of Energy and Mines tweeted. The government later said it sought help from international experts from "friendly countries" with experience in the oil sector.

The state-run Cuban News Agency said lightning struck one of his tanks, A fire broke out and the flames then spread to his second tank. A thick column of black smoke billowed from the facility as military helicopters flew overhead and dropped water on the flames, stretching him more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) west toward Havana.

Cuba Oil Fire
Workers from the Cuban Petroleum Union, known by the Spanish acronym CUPET, saw the giant smoke rising from the Matanzas supertanker base as firefighters I see it as Working Saturday, August 6, 2022, in Matazanas, Cuba, to quench a fire that started during the previous night's thunderstorm. Over 50 injured. Ramon Espinosa/AP

The state government on his Facebook page in Matanzas says the number of injured has reached his 77, with 17 missing. said to have become The Republic's presidential office said the 17 were "firefighters who were in the nearest area trying to prevent the spread".

The incident occurred at a time when Cuba was suffering from a fuel shortage. There is no immediate announcement on how much oil has burned or is at risk at the storage facility, which has eight huge tanks that store oil used to fuel power plants. was.

"I was in the gym when I felt the first explosion. A column of smoke and a terrible fire shot up the sky," resident Adiel Gonzalez called his Associated Press. said in "This city smells strongly of sulfur." ​​

Cuba Oil Fire
A water-carrying helicopter flew over the Matanzas supertanker base and reached Matazanas. Firefighters are trying to put out a fire that started during the previous night's thunderstorm. , Cuba, Saturday, August 6, 2022.  Ramon Espinosa/AP

Authorities said Gonzalez had been evacuated from the Dubrok neighborhood closest to the fire. He added that some decided to leave the Versailles area, a short distance from the tank grounds.

Dozens of ambulances, police and fire engines were seen in the streets of Matanzas, a city of about 140,000 on the Bay of Matanzas.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel headed to the scene of the fire early Saturday morning, officials said.

Local meteorologist Elier Pila showed satellite images of the area with a dense plume of black smoke moving westward from the spot of fire and reaching Havana eastward.

"The plume length he could be close to 150 kilometers," Pila wrote on his Twitter account.

Cuba Oil Fire
Firefighters extinguish a fire started in the previous night's thunderstorm as people watch a huge plume of smoke rise from the Matanzas supertanker base. I'm trying , Matazanas, Cuba, Saturday, August 6, 2022.  Ramon Espinosa / AP
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