Until Monday night, the helicopters of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba had carried out over 100 missions to drop water on the fire at the base of fuel depots in Matanzas City.
Extinguishing Fire in Cuba May Take Days, Says Fire Chief
Each of the missions spilled some 2,500 liters of water on the fire, which started last Friday when lightning struck a tank containing millions of liters of hydrocarbons.
The explosions, with columns of fire of several tens of meters, created a curtain of thick black smoke that has made it impossible for experts to analyze the situation on the ground. The fire, now out of control, could continue for days.
Specifically, the extent of the damage to the third and fourth fuel tanks, each of which has about 50,000 cubic meters of storage capacity, is unknown.
The tweet reads, "Tribute to the firefighters of Cuba, where there are 17 missing personnel during the work of extinguishing the Matanzas refinery fire."
"High temperatures have made the work very difficult. A chain reaction has made it practically impossible to put out the fire," admitted Alexander Avalos, deputy head of the National Extinction Department of the Cuban Fire Department.
At the Supertanker Base, there are 8 storage tanks, four of which are in danger due to the high temperatures of the fire and the wind in the area.
As a result of the recent explosions and the profusion of smoke at ground level, the Cuban firefighters have not been able to use a powerful hydraulic pump installed by the cooperation teams from Venezuela and Mexico.