The Cuban Government Once Again Uses Military Service Recruits As Firefighters

The photos published by the provincial media show the youth of the injured, in uniforms with the insignia of the Ministry of the Interior. (Facebook/La Demajagua)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 13 January 2023 — At least five people were injured, one of them seriously, as the result of a fire in a resin warehouse in Manzanillo, in the province of Granma. The accident occurred this Thursday around 5:00 in the morning in a warehouse of the state company Astilleros del Golfo, the official press reported.

By telephone with the Celia Sánchez Manduley Hospital, where the injured are being treated, this newspaper learned that the individual who is in serious condition is the head of the fire command, 35 years old. Of the rest of the wounded, who were also working to extinguish the fire, at least two of them, age 19, were recruits from compulsory military service. The other two were 20 and 21 years old, respectively.

The head of service for burn victims, Francisco Andrés Pérez Suárez, told La Demajagua that the patient in serious condition has 15% of his body affected. “We are assessing his progress due to the characteristics of the injuries, but vigilance must be maintained to avoid any complications. It all depends on the local evolution of the burns.” The article also clarifies that “the necessary supplies and resources are available for the care of patients.”

The provincial newspaper, which does not explain how the fire started, says that in the warehouse there were “more than a hundred tanks with resin, catalyst and over 88 pounds of cobalt, products with flammable characteristics that are used in the manufacture of boats.” Some social media commentators said that several explosions were heard in the vicinity and that the flames reached a considerable height. The depot is located in an industrial area where it was necessary to evacuate several work centers that store chemical materials such as ammonia.

The Gulf Shipyards, the text highlights, turned 60 in April, and “their collective is considered among the six most important in Cuba.”

The photos published by the provincial media show the youth of the wounded, in uniforms with the insignia of the Ministry of the Interior.

It iss not the first time that the Cuban government has used recruits to extinguish fires, a job that is highly specialized. The most tragic precedent is the disaster of the Matanzas Supertanks. Several of the fatalities, 17 in total, were young people who were on compulsory military service.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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