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Fire at Cuban Fuel Depot Leaves at Least 77 Injured, 17 Missing

Cuban officials were struggling to contain a fire at a sprawling fuel depot Saturday, after a lightning strike set off a series of explosions that have left at least 77 injured and 17 missing.

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(Bloomberg) — Cuban officials were struggling to contain a fire at a sprawling fuel depot Saturday, after a lightning strike set off a series of explosions that have left at least 77 injured and 17 missing. 

The provincial government of Matanzas has reported at least four explosions at an industrial complex after it was hit by lightning late Friday.

In a series of Tweets, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said there was “no precedent for a fire of this size” and said it was “urgent to find the firefighters missing in the explosion.”

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Local authorities have ordered an evacuation of nearby communities.

Roberto Rodriguez, the head of fuel commercialization in Matanzas, told state-run Granma newspaper that one of the storage tanks that caught fire contained 52,000 cubic meters of fuel oil. 

Read More: Cuba Unable to Meet Energy Demand Amid Breakdowns: Official

The accident in Matanzas — on Cuba’s northern shore and about 56 miles east of Havana — is likely to exacerbate Cuba’s ongoing power crisis. For months, the communist island has been forced to ration electricity amid generator breakdowns and soaring global fuel costs. The outages have led to a new wave of protests.

The presidency warned that the state-run power company could only meet about two-thirds of the island’s peak demand on Saturday.

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