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CUBA Firefighters struggle to contain blaze as Biden under pressure to lift blockade on Cuba

FIREFIGHTERS have brought a devastating industrial blaze in Cuba under control although President Miguel Diaz Canel warned on Wednesday that the danger was not yet over. 

Mexico and Venezuela sent 127 specialists, 45,000 litres of retardant foam, eight armoured breathable air tanks, and other materials as it mobilised in support of Havana. 

"We made progress in confronting the terrible fire in the Matanzas Industrial Zone. Today was a day of victory, but we cannot trust ourselves. The danger is still latent,” Mr Diaz Canel said. 

Local authorities explained that "a more favourable moment" had been created thanks to a more stable water supply and the creation of fire containment dikes. 

First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba in Matanzas, Susley More said the wind fanned the flames in the early hours of Wednesday as relief efforts were underway. 

One person is known to have been killed while 125 have been injured, 19 of whom required hospital treatment. 

But at least 14 people are missing, most of them firefighters, with search operations underway. 

The fire is believed to be Cuba’s worst industrial disaster, with the government yet to release the cost of the damage. 

Part of the fuel at Matanzas was intended for energy production and may see a worsening of the situation with the national electricity company already suffering frequent blackouts for weeks. 

The fire first broke out on August 5 when lighting struck one of eight tankers, each with a capacity of 50,000 cubic metres. 

The blaze that followed saw plumes of toxic black smoke that what visible in the Cuban capital Havana, more than 100 kilometres a day. 

Campaigners from the US-based People’s Forum have launched an appeal for aid for the Cuban people who it said were “struggling mightily against the supertanker fire.”

The initiative was launched under the slogan: “Sanctions fuel fire: Let Cuba live.”

They called on US President Joe Biden to take urgent action and lift the 60-year economic blockade on the socialist island. 

“When your neighbour’s house is on fire, the normal human reaction is to rush next door to help. Biden can help Cuba right now by lifting sanctions and sending material aid,” the group said.


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