Third oil tank ignites in Cuba (+VIDEO)

TEHRAN, Aug. 09 (MNA) – A third crude tank caught fire and collapsed Monday at Cuba’s main oil terminal in Matanzas as an oil spill spread flames from a second tank that caught fire two days earlier.

Cuba had made progress fighting off the raging flames during the weekend after drawing on help from Mexico and Venezuela, but late on Sunday the fire began spreading from the second tank, which collapsed, said Mario Sabines, governor of the Matanzas province, about 100km (60 miles) from Havana, Aljazeera reported.

A fourth tank is threatened but has yet to catch fire. Firefighters had sprayed water on the remaining tanks over the weekend to cool them and try to stop the fire from spreading.

Matanzas is Cuba’s largest port for receiving crude oil and fuel imports. Cuban heavy crude, as well as fuel oil and diesel stored in Matanzas, are mainly used to generate electricity on the island.

Sabines compared the situation to an “Olympic torch” going from one tank to the next, turning each into a “caldron” and now encompassing the area covering three tanks and with flames and billowing black smoke making tackling the situation “complicated”.

“The risk we had announced happened, and the blaze of the second tank compromised the third one,” said Sabines.

Officials have warned that the cloud contains sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and other poisonous substances.

One firefighter has died and 16 people are missing, all from Saturday’s explosion at the second storage tank. The blaze started after lightning struck one of the facility’s eight tanks on Friday night.

RHM/PR

News Code 190017

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