The First Fatality of the Fire in Matanzas is Identified

The column of smoke from the fire extends for kilometers over the island. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 7 August 2022 — Firefighter Juan Carlos Santana Garrido, 60, is the first identified fatality of the fire that still continues at the Matanzas Supertank Base. His body was found this Saturday, and he was one of the 17 missing.

The Cuban authorities have not reported information about the other 16 people. On Saturday, the Cuban Presidency reported that in addition to the injured, there is also a group of missing people, without specifying who they are. In a morning report, the EFE agency said that they are firefighters.

According to the newspaper Girón, family members who ask about people who aren’t on the lists of those injured or those who are still fighting the fire must go to the Velasco Hotel. “In the hotel there is a care center for the families of those who aren’t listed,” said psychologist Laura María Hernández, who is in charge of mental health specialists at the Faustino Pérez hospital.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health said on Sunday that 122 more people were injured. Of these, 24 remain hospitalized, including five in critical condition and three in serious condition, and the rest have been discharged. Also, 4,946 people have been evacuated from the area of the accident.

The official press released a photograph of the firefighter who died in the fire, Juan Carlos Santana Garrido. (Collage)

So far, the official press is reporting that firefighters continue with the work of extinguishing the fire, which started around 7:00 pm last Friday, allegedly due to the lightning strike on the structure of tank 52, which held national crude oil. The fire spread to a second tank of imported fuel oil and threatens to spread to a third.

The work of putting out the fire has been joined by delegations of experts from Mexico and Venezuela. The first of three Mexican planes arrived last night at the Juan Gualberto Gómez de Matanzas airport in an aircraft of the Mexican Air Force, a Boeing 737-700.

The Mexican delegation is composed of 60 members of the Armed Forces and 16 technicians from the state company Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) “with experience in cooling this type of disaster,” said Cubadebate. The other two planes will transport chemicals and materials to fight the fire, according to statements by the Mexican ambassador to Cuba, Miguel Díaz Reynoso.

During the early hours of Sunday, an A340-600 aircraft also arrived from Venezuela, at Juan Gualberto Gómez de Varadero International Airport, with 35 firefighters, specialists and technicians from the state company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to help extinguish the flames.

In addition, the United States offered technical advice to help put out the fire. Yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Island, Carlos Fernández de Cossío, said that they were coordinating the aid. Nicaragua and Chile have also offered help, in addition to the European Union, which expressed its willingness to collaborate.

On Sunday morning, Matanzas Radio 26 reported that some trucks are already moving material to extinguish the fire. In addition, the ship María Cristina arrived in the bay of the province to evacuate 6,000 tons of fuel from the tanks.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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