A third oil tank caught fire and collapsed at Cuba’s main sector terminal in Matanzas, the province’s governor said on Monday. .
Great pillars of fire and thick black smoke rose throughout the day, darkening the sky as far as Havana. Explosions rocked the area just before midnight when one tank collapsed and then collapsed again as another exploded at noon.
A firefighter died and 16 people are missing due to the explosion in the second storage tank on Saturday. A fourth tank was threatened but did not catch fire. Cuba is dependent on oil to produce most of its electricity.
Mario Sabines, the governor of the state of Matanzas, said the country had made progress in fighting the fire over the weekend after receiving help from Mexico and Venezuela, but on Sunday night the fire began to spread from the second tank and collapsed on top of it. 130 km from Havana.
Matanzas is Cuba’s largest port for oil and fuel imports. Along with the fuel and diesel stored in Matanzas, Cuban oil is mainly used to generate electricity on the island.
At noon on Monday, authorities announced that the country’s most important power plant, located less than 2 km from the fire, was shut down due to low water pressure in the area.
The electricity grid is more than 90% dependent on domestic and imported fuel. The fire threatened both, said Jorge Piñon, director of the Energy and Environment Program for Latin America and the Caribbean at the University of Texas at Austin.
“The key question right now is where Cuban crude oil production goes to produce fuel for electricity use, because it is only pipelined to Matanzas,” Piñon said, noting that the plant has an installed capacity of 2.4 million barrels.