The collapse of the wall of the second tank set on fire in the industrial zone of Matanzas was made visible by the flight of a drone, and it was clarified that the third tank is not on fire, informed Williams González Hernández, head of the Civil Defense group in Matanzas.
González Hernández specified that the collapse of the tank wall caused notable explosions and action will be taken to mitigate the resulting flames, he warned that although the third tank preserves its integrity, the danger is still present.
The forces working at the site were evacuated before the intense explosions reported on Sunday night, around midnight.
The sky lit up all over the city, the vapor from the blast wave was felt more than three kilometers away, the smoke mushroom exceeded several kilometers in height, said Henry Delgado, a young meteorologist, on Facebook.
Maritza Castillo, a resident of Naranjal, a neighborhood far from the industrial zone of Matanzas, confirmed that noticeable explosions were felt that disturbed the silence of the night, and the sky turned reddish. The night became day in Matanzas.
During Sunday it was possible to control the fire of the first tank that caught fire last Friday at the supertanker base due to the impact of an electric discharge.
Solidarity forces from Venezuela and Mexico, together with Cuban forces, are working to control the flames.
Fire in Matanzas, a fight against fire and time
Firefighters spent the entire morning of August 8 trying to contain the flames at the Matanzas fuel terminal after the collapse of a second fuel tank.
At dawn, Revolutionary Armed Forces helicopters were at work loading water from nearby Matanzas Bay and dropping it on the affected area.
The fire broke out last Friday, after an electrical discharge during a storm affected tank 52 of that facility, which contained some 25,000 cubic meters of domestically produced crude oil, rich in sulfur.
On Saturday the situation worsened when the fire spread to tank 51, which contained an even larger amount of fuel oil and which at the stroke of midnight on Sunday collapsed and caused a violent explosion when the burning fuel spread over a wide area.
Cuban television broadcast images of the explosion of the fuel tank, which could not withstand the intense heat after burning for more than 30 hours, and it was feared that the fire could have reached a third tank, number 50, also full of crude oil.
Later, the Matanzas Provincial Defense Council reported that the third fuel tank did not collapse as a result of the explosion, and specified that after the oil spill from the second tank, work is being carried out to control it.
As a consequence of the deflagration, three people were hospitalized in the city of Matanzas with minor burns, who have already been discharged, according to the authorities.
Previously, and in order to safeguard the lives of the personnel involved in extinguishing the fire, the refrigeration work on the third tank was stopped, which prevented further damage.
The governor of Matanzas, Mario Sabines, stated in a video that tank two had cracked and spilled all the fuel in the surrounding areas and set fire to the undergrowth.
He indicated that several firefighting teams were working on the ground “extinguishing where it can be extinguished” and in a terrain with risks and that actions would be resumed at the appropriate time to pump the necessary water and “extinguish whatever may be left of the fire”.
The province’s health authorities recommended the population to close doors and windows and to wear masks even inside the house, due to the smoke from the fire.
International support was also quickly expressed with the arrival of specialized personnel and equipment from Mexico and Venezuela, in several flights that landed at the Juan Gualberto Gómez International Airport in Matanzas.