Firefighters and specialists from Mexico and Venezuela helped battle the blaze in Matanzas utilizing boats, planes and helicopters.
Firefighters have lastly overcome what officers described because the worst fire in Cuba’s historical past that blazed over 5 days and destroyed 40 % of the Caribbean island’s principal gasoline storage facility and precipitated monumental energy outages.
Matanzas is Cuba’s largest port for receiving crude oil and gasoline imports. Oil and diesel saved in 10 huge tanks at the port are primarily used to generate electrical energy on the island.
Rolando Vecino, the top of transport for the Cuban inside ministry, mentioned on state-run tv on Tuesday afternoon that firefighters had “managed to regulate the hearth” .
Al Jazeera’s correspondent Ed Augustin mentioned raging flames that had ravaged a four-tank phase of the Matanzas tremendous tanker port had died down and the towering plumes of thick black smoke streaming from the port had been now largely gray.
“The blaze lastly appears to be beneath management,” Augustin mentioned, talking from Matanzas port. “You possibly can see an enormous quantity of smoke billowing out however crucially, the color has modified.
“For the final three days, the color has been a deep soot black,” he mentioned. “Now it’s a light-weight shade of gray, proof that a lot of the hearth has been smothered.”
Extra helicopters joined the hassle to place out the hearth on Tuesday, together with two fireboats despatched by Mexico and heavy firefighting gear.
Later within the day, firefighters for the primary time had been capable of enter the world and spray foam and water on the nonetheless smouldering stays of the gasoline tanks.
Officers haven’t mentioned how a lot gasoline has been misplaced within the fireplace. Authorities mentioned that no oil had contaminated the close by Matanzas Bay. Nonetheless, they warned residents as far-off because the capital Havana – situated roughly 60 miles (130 kilometres) from the port – to put on face masks and keep away from attainable acid rain as a result of giant plume of smoke the hearth generated.
The hearth broke out when lightning struck a gasoline storage tank on Friday night. The hearth unfold to a second tank by Sunday and engulfed the four-tank space on Monday regardless of efforts by native firefighters supported by greater than 100 Mexican and Venezuelan reinforcements.
One firefighter was killed and 14 reported lacking on Saturday when the second tank blew up, authorities mentioned, correcting an earlier determine of 16 lacking. 5 others stay in crucial situation. Greater than 100 folks had been reported injured, with 22 nonetheless in hospital.
The massive blaze was accompanied by big explosions. Every storage tank had the capability to carry some 50,000 cubic metres or 50 million litres of gasoline.
The Matanzas gasoline depot, constructed within the Nineteen Eighties and modernised a number of instances, provides Cuba’s Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric plant, the biggest energy technology plant within the communist nation.
Cuba, which remains to be beneath heavy US sanctions, is all however bankrupt.
Frequent energy blackouts and shortages of gasoline and different commodities had already created a tense state of affairs on the island with scattered native protests that continued after final summer season’s historic unrest in July.
“The issue with (electrical energy technology) has not been the shortage of gasoline, however the crops are very outdated and have upkeep issues,” mentioned Jorge Pinon, a Cuban skilled in vitality coverage on the College of Texas.
“Now they may also have an absence of gasoline,” Pinon mentioned.
“In the event that they lose Matanzas, they lose the flexibility to produce the ability crops,” he mentioned.