Firefighters subdue deadly blaze at key oil facility in Cuba
A deadly fire that has consumed at least half of a large oil facility in western Cuba and threatened to worsen the island's energy crisis has been largely controlled after nearly five days, authorities said Wednesday.
Flames that recently consumed the fourth tank in the eight-tank facility in Matanzas were almost quelled, although the third tank remains on fire and surrounded by smoke, according to an unidentified Cuban firefighter.
Col. Daniel Chavez, second in command at Cuba's firefighting department, said the fire could keep burning for the next couple of days, but he did not expect it to spread further. He said the next step is to cool the area.
The blaze killed at least one person and injured 128 others, with 14 firefighters still reported missing and 20 people hospitalized. The fire also forced officials to evacuate more than 4,900 people and shut down a key thermoelectric plant after it ran out of water, raising concerns about a new round of blackouts in addition to the ones the government announced last week for Havana.
Arturo Lopez-Levy, a politics and international relations professor at Holy Names University in California, said the fire will complicate an already difficult scenario in Cuba.
“I think any realistic forecast would point to more blackouts and more difficulty in carrying out the minimum economic activity in the country,” he said.
Lopez-Levy also warned that it would be difficult “to lift up this country after this triple tragedy,” referring to the U.S. sanctions, the pandemic and now the fire.
Some Cubans worry the blaze could lead to more planned power outages as the government grapples with a fuel shortage.
“That gives way to more justification of blackouts that are going to occur,” said Pedro Pozo, a state worker.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel praised the work by local firefighters and special teams sent byt Mexico and Venezuela that employed boats, planes and helicopters to fight the blaze whose billowing, toxic smoke could be seen from the capital of Havana.
“(Tuesday) was a victory day, but we cannot be overconfident,” the president tweeted Wednesday as he warned about a possible switch in the wind direction. “Danger is lurking.”
The fire at the Matanzas Supertanker Base began Friday when lightning struck the key infrastructure, which operates an oil pipeline that receives Cuban crude oil that powers thermoelectric plants. It also serves as the unloading and transshipment center for imported crude oil, fuel oil and diesel.
The government has not provided an estimate of damages or said how much it has lost overall in key fuel supplies. The first tank was at 50% capacity and contained nearly 883,000 cubic feet (25,000 cubic metres) of fuel. The second tank was full.
Along with a high inflation rate, Canadians are also contending with a loonie that's dropping in value. Personal finance columnist Christopher Liew explains the impact this will have on your personal finances, and tips to make your money go further.
Canadian shoppers are spending more at the grocery store, but bananas, tofu and flour remain affordable despite inflation.
Amid soaring prices at grocery stores, a new survey has found that 24 per cent of Canadians have had to cut back on the amount of food they were buying.
Tipping fatigue is hitting consumers as requests for gratuities increase and spread to new businesses amid the rise of automated payment machines and preset tip suggestions.
A new study shows Canadians are charging slightly less to their primary credit cards than they did a year ago as inflation remains high and buy now, pay later services grow more prominent.
A new study has found that the pandemic provided Canadians the opportunity to rethink their financial goals, with many moving, switching careers and planning to travel.
The average cost of tuition hit $6,693 for the 2021/2022 year, according to StatCan, and more students are scrambling for ways to afford the increased cost. Contributor Christoper Liew breaks down some of the best-paying jobs that provide an excellent opportunity for post-secondary students to earn a side income.
Statistics Canada says the amount Canadians owe relative to their income moved higher in the second quarter as the level of debt grew faster than their earnings.