Cuba: Lightning strikes oil facility – 17 missing and 77 injured, with flames spiraling out of control | world news

A lightning strike has set fire to an oil storage facility in Cuba, and flames are now spiraling out of control.

Four explosions have been reported at the site in the city of Matanzas and nearly 80 people have been injured.

Seventeen firefighters who were nearby and tried to stop the fire from spreading have been reported missing.

Cuba’s government has asked for help from international experts in “friendly countries” who have experience in the oil sector.

As helicopters flew over to drop water, a dense column of black smoke billowed from the site and spread westward toward the capital, Havana.

The storage facility is equipped with eight giant tanks that contain oil used to fuel power plants.

Lightning initially hit one tank, but the fire later spread to a second — and the accident comes as Cuba continues to struggle with fuel shortages.

Adiel Gonzalez, who is nearby, said: “I was at the gym when I felt the first explosion. A column of smoke and terrible fire rose through the air.”

A plume of black smoke could be seen for miles

The Dubrocq neighborhood closest to the fire has since been evacuated – some have chosen to leave slightly more distant neighborhoods.

Mantanzas is home to a population of about 140,000 people, and President Miguel Diaz-Canel traveled to the area on Saturday.

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