In a telegram signed by the pope’s “right hand man” Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis expresses his spiritual closeness to the families of the many people affected by a disaster at a fuel depot in the Cuban city of Matanzas. The pontiff also assured his prayers for those working to extinguish the fire and searching for possible survivors.
On the evening of August 5, lightning struck a tank at the oil depot in the city of Matanzas, 60 miles east of the capital Havana, triggering a major fire. The fire quickly spread to a second tank, necessitating the evacuation of 1,900 residents living nearby. For the time being, one person is dead, 121 injured and 17 are still missing.
Faced with the extent of the damage and unable to contain the fire, which continues to burn three days after its outbreak, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel called on neighboring countries to help. Rescue workers have already arrived from Venezuela and Mexico. The United States has offered additional assistance to control the fire.
The disaster could have important consequences for the country, which is heavily dependent on oil to produce electricity. The island nation has already been regularly subject to power cuts in recent weeks, according to France Info.
Pope Francis, in the telegram sent to the president of the Cuban bishops’ conference, Bishop Emilio Aranguren Echevarria, sends his blessing to the families of the victims and to those involved in dealing with the disaster.