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Cuba: Oil tanks burst into flames after lightning strikes

Firefighters are still struggling to contain the inferno 80 miles east of Havana (Image: AFP/Twitter)

Firefighters are still struggling to contain the inferno 80 miles east of Havana (Image: AFP/Twitter)

Huge plumes of smoke have been billowing into the air since last night after a lightning strike in Cuba set fire to two large oil tanks.

The first container burned throughout the night and the inferno later spread to a second which exploded this morning.

Civilians had already been evacuated from the area near the supertanker port in Matanzas, but at least 49 people were injured in the second blast.

Health Minister José Angel Portal Miranda said one of the injured was critical and seven others were in “serious” condition.

“I was at the gym when I felt the first explosion. A column of smoke and a terrible fire rose into the sky,” said resident Adiel Gonzalez, adding, “The town smells strongly of sulfur.”

It is not known how much oil was burned, but Cuba is currently suffering from fuel shortages and daily power outages.

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A firefighter stands near a burning oil tank in Matanzas, Cuba, August 6, 2022. - The fire, caused by lightning on Friday at a tank farm in Matanzas, western Cuba, spread to a second tank at dawn this Saturday, causing 49 injuries, official sources said. (Photo by YAMIL LAGE/AFP) (Photo by YAMIL LAGE/AFP via Getty Images)

Thick black smoke fills the sky (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Oil tanker struck by lightning in Cuba Credit Twitter

The inferno spread to a second tanker, which exploded this morning (Image: Twitter)

President Miguel Diaz-Canel visited the scene, 80 miles east of Havana, around midnight and returned later in the morning as state television reported live on the looming disaster.

Diaz-Canel tweeted ahead of the second blast that first responders were “trying to prevent the spread of flames and any fuel spillage” into Matanzas Bay.

By Saturday morning, the fire appeared completely out of control, threatening other nearby fuel tanks.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/08/06/cuba-oil-storage-tanks-go-up-in-flames-after-lightning-strike-17139164/ Cuba: Oil tanks burst into flames after lightning strikes

Justin Scacco

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