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Cuba’s enormous blaze fuels fears of instability even as flames are doused

As the country grapples with power outages and US sanctions, its government faces a perilous moment

Firefighters battle the blaze in Matanzas, Cuba, on Tuesday. Photograph: Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian — A lightning strike, a chain of fireball explosions so huge they could be seen 65 miles away in Havana, and a lingering stench of sulphur.

The five-day blaze at Cuba’s main oil storage facility in Matanzas was sparked by lightning on Friday night. Over the following days, the flames spread “like an Olympic torch” to three more tanks containing hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of fuel, according to the region’s governor, Mario Sabines.

Only on Tuesday was the conflagration finally brought under control. By then, it had killed at least one person and injured 125 others, and dealt a critical blow to Cuba’s energy infrastructure.

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