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HomeWorld67 injured in Cuban fuel depot fire: hospitalAchi News

67 injured in Cuban fuel depot fire: hospitalAchi News

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67 injured in Cuban fuel depot fire: hospital

HAVANA, Cuba (AFP) – More than 60 people have been injured, three of them critically, in a fire caused by lightning at a fuel depot in western Cuba, officials said Saturday.

Official newspaper Granma attributed the fire, which started on Friday evening, to an “electrical discharge” that struck a tank at a depot outside the town of Madanzas, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of Havana.

A second fire broke out from a fuel tank early Saturday morning, sending huge plumes of black smoke into the sky.

Faustino Perez Provincial Hospital said 67 people were injured, 15 in serious or very serious condition.

Another 17 people, primarily firefighters, are listed as missing, the Cuban president said. According to regional authorities, around 800 people were evacuated from the area.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Prime Minister Manuel Marrero oversaw the rescue efforts.

Upon hearing the first explosion, Uni Hernandez and her family fled their home two kilometers from the depot, the 32-year-old mother told AFP. They returned after a few hours.

But around 5 a.m. Saturday (0900 GMT), “more explosions were heard, as if pieces of the tank were falling,” he said.

Granma newspaper quoted a senior official at state-owned Cubapetroleum as saying the fire was caused by “a fault in the lightning-rod system, unable to withstand the energy from the electrical discharge”.

The official said the depot serves the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric plant, but service to the plant has not been interrupted.

The fire comes at a time when the country — with an outdated energy network and persistent fuel shortages — is facing mounting difficulties in meeting increased energy demands amid intense summer heat.

Since May, authorities have imposed blackouts of up to 12 hours a day in some regions — sparking at least 20 protests across the island’s interior.

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