- Atahualpa Amerise @atareports
- BBC News World
“A friend calls me and says to me: Look on the balcony, there is a black cloud above the fuel tanks.”
“I think they caught fire.”
Cuban audiovisual producer and cameraman Miriel Santana was in her apartment when the fire broke out Friday afternoon in the Matanzas industrial zone, 80 kilometers east of Havana.
According to Cuban authorities, a deposit containing about 25,000 cubic meters of oil caught fire due to a lightning strike.
“An Interesting Fireball”
Santana, 30, has lived up to the hype The biggest fire in decades From a privileged position on the island, its balcony overlooks the highway connecting Madanzas to the oil fields.
“I look at the balcony and, in fact, there is black smoke coming out of a tank and I start taking photos. I post on networks and I see other people start sharing it. It was around 7 in the afternoon, there was a storm,” he tells BBC Mundo.
“It’s coming in two hours First explosionA colossal, impressive ball of fire”.
A lightning-struck tank exploded, setting fire to the second of eight 50,000-liter tanks at Cuba’s largest fuel storage facility.
And Santana, from her balcony, pictured the hours passing by.
“Every Photo Hurts Me”
“I’ve been standing on the balcony since I saw the smoke. We thought the first explosion was big, very impressive, but it was not even remotely close to what we experienced days later.”
He admits that at first it was difficult to film: “Everything he took hurt me because it was such a sad situation. Matanzas has a very beautiful bay, and seeing that column of smoke hurt me.”
“But a lot of people asked me to inform them, not discourage me, and that inspired me to do a kind of coverage with photos, videos, time lapses.”
When a huge explosion broke out in the second warehouse on Sunday night, the young filmmaker’s still camera recorded the direction of the fire.
“I was about 3 kilometers in and I felt the burn“, he assures.
A series of time-lapse images show the ferocity of the blast, which spread a blanket of light and heat over the provincial capital of more than 150,000 people for several seconds.
“Something exploded every two hours.”
“The first thing my partner and I thought was if we felt it was that far, what would happen to the people who worked there, the firefighters and the Red Cross. It was quite a shock. Put ourselves in the shoes of those who were there than we actually saw”, explains the author of the video.
The explosions continued on Monday morning, and the black smoke from the fire was so thick that nothing could be seen in the industrial zone, he says.
“We woke up to the fire department sirens going off and about 20 or 30 vehicles started coming down my street and we started looking. People run in panic From next door.
“There I took the things and we went to the beach area,” he testifies.
Already from a distance, on the other side of the bay, he checked that the fire was still out of control: “Something exploded every two hours“.
“Even at 4.5 kilometers from the center of the eruptions, you felt the heat and saw mountains of fire.”
Fortunately for the residents of Matanzas, the wind blew from the west, so the toxic air did not affect them, as in other cities on the northwest coast, black rain and evidence of air, soil and water pollution came.
Only a 60-year-old firefighter has died so far 14 people are missingAccording to the latest official data from the Cuban government, this Tuesday, August 9.
106 people were injured, 19 of them were hospitalized, 5 of them were in critical condition and two were critical.
Cuban authorities tried to put out the fire with the help of boats, helicopters, crews and other equipment. Sent to Mexico and VenezuelaOil producing countries have the most resources to deal with these types of events.
Santana told BBC Mundo that these days he plans to make a documentary with the footage he captured to make sure the tragedy in his hometown of Matanzas is not forgotten.
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