Fire that destroyed 40 percent of Cuba's fuel storage facility brought under control

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Fire that destroyed 40 percent of Cuba's fuel storage facility brought under control

A fire that destroyed 40 percent of Cuba's main fuel storage facility in Matanzas has been brought under control after five days.

At least one person was confirmed dead on Tuesday, 14 firefighters were missing and 125 others were injured, according to local time.

Of the injured, 20 remained in the hospital - five of them in a critical condition.

Nearly 5,000 people had to be evacuated, a thermoelectric plant shut down and locals have been warned to wear face masks and avoid acid rain.

It's been called the worst fire in Cuba's history.

During an evening storm, lightning struck a fuel storage tank at the Matanzas Supertanker Base.

The tank was half capacity, and contained nearly 25,000 cubic metres of fuel.

A very big explosion went off at around 8 pm, according to locals.

The fire burned through the night, with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel visiting the scene at about midnight.

Diaz-Canel said on his personal account that first responders were trying to avert the spread of the flames and any spill of fuel into the Matanzas bay.

The blaze appeared to be completely out of control by Saturday morning, according to Reuters.

Here is a drone footage from Cuba's official presidential account from just before 2 am.

A second fuel storage tank exploded at about 5 am.

The tank was full this time.

It was so big that it lit up the area like the sun, local resident Alfredo Gonzalez said.

Cuban authorities said at least 121 people were injured in the second blast, many of whom were first responders.

Military helicopters dumped seawater on nearby storage tanks throughout the day.

The smoke billowing from the site spread beyond the port city, reaching Cuba's capital Havana, about 85 kilometres away.

With 82 Mexican and 35 Venezuelan firefighters experience in fuel blazes joining the effort and bringing four plane loads of fire-fighting chemicals, reinforcements were bought in.

The death of one firefighter has been confirmed by this point.

Susely Morfa Gonzalez, head of the Communist Party in Matanzas, told local reporters that there are no flames at this time, only white smoke coming from the first tank to explode.

She said the second tank was still burning, with crews working to stop the third tank from going up in flames.

Ms Gonzalez said that it is being cooled with water at intervals in order to maintain an adequate temperature that prevents combustion.

The fire spread despite these efforts.

Officials said a secondary fire originating from the area had been extinguished and no oil contaminated Matanzas Bay had been extinguished.

The authorities warned that sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and other poisonous substances contained, as well as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and other poisonous substances, which locals were told to use face masks or stay inside to avoid the smoke.

Matanzas province governor Mario Sabines confirmed that the third tank had caught fire and collapsed.

He compared the situation to an Olympic torch going from one tank to the next, turning each into a cauldron. Fears turned to a fourth tank, which at this point was threatened, but was yet to catch alight.

At around midday, authorities announced that Cuba's most important power plant, about a kilometre away, had been shut down because of low water pressure in the area.

Fire spread to the fourth tank, it was confirmed.

More helicopters were sent to fight the blaze, assisted by two fireboats sent by Mexico.

There was good news.

Today we managed to control the fire, head of transport for the Ministry of Interior Rolando Vecino said on state-owned television.

Firefighters entered the site in the early hours of the morning, spraying foam and water on the still-smouldering tanks.

It is not clear how much fuel was lost in the fire, but it's likely that the blaze will affect the country's power supply, which is heavily dependent on fuel, as four tanks are destroyed.