Xi sends sympathy to Cuba after fuel depot blasts

Flames and smoke rise from the Matanzas Supertanker Base, as firefighters and specialists work to quell the blaze which began during a thunderstorm the night before, in Matazanas, Cuba, Aug 6, 2022. (RAMON ESPINOSA / AP)

President Xi Jinping sent a message of sympathy on Monday to Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel over explosions at a fuel storage facility in the Caribbean nation, which had caused major casualties and property losses.

In his message to Diaz-Canel, who is also the first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee, Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said he was shocked to learn that fuel tanks near the port of Matanzas in Cuba had exploded, resulting in death and injuries, as well as a great loss of property.

On behalf of the Chinese government and people and in his own name, Xi expressed his deep condolences over the loss of life and injuries as a result of the accident and offered his sincere sympathies to the families of those who were killed or injured.

He said that China stands ready to provide assistance to Cuba.

At least one person was killed and 122 injured in a large-scale fire following a series of explosions at a fuel storage facility in Cuba, the nation's Ministry of Public Health said on Sunday, adding that 16 others were still missing in the accident.

A tank at the fuel depot near the port of Matanzas was engulfed in a huge blaze following a lightning strike at 7 pm on Friday. The fire reached a second tank on Saturday morning and triggered a series of explosions.

Cuban firefighters were joined by Mexican and Venezuelan experts on Sunday to extinguish the blaze that was still spreading.

"Cuba lacks some resources and technologies required to control this large-scale fire," said Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel who stayed at the scene, 100 km east of Havana, the country's capital.

So far, some 5,000 residents have been evacuated from the area, according to official data.

The Caribbean nation is suffering from a lack of electricity due to fuel shortages. Its power supply could further deteriorate after the explosions.

Xinhua contributed to this story.