A lightning strike ignited a fire at an oil storage facility in the Cuban city of Matanzas, where four explosions and flames have injured almost 80 people, and 17 firefighters are missing.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines tweeted on Saturday that firefighters and other professionals were still attempting to extinguish the fire at the Matanzas Supertanker Base, which began after a thunderstorm on Friday night.
The government then disclosed that it had requested assistance from overseas experts in "friendly countries" with expertise in the oil industry.
The official Cuban News Agency reported that lightning struck one tank, igniting a fire that spread to a second tank.
As military helicopters dropped water on the blaze from the sky, a dense column of black smoke rose from the complex and extended more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) westward toward Havana.
According to the Matanzas province government's Facebook page, 77 persons have been hurt, and 17 are missing.
The Presidency of the Republic stated that the 17 were "firefighters in the immediate area attempting to stop the fire's spread."
The catastrophe occurs at a time when Cuba is experiencing gasoline shortages.
There was no immediate information regarding the amount of oil that had burnt or was in danger at the storage complex, which contains eight enormous tanks containing oil used to feed electricity-generating units.
"I was in the fitness center when I felt the initial blast. Adiel Gonzalez, a resident, stated that a column of smoke and a horrific fire soared into the sky. The city smells strongly like sulfur.
Authorities reported that the Dubrocq neighborhood, closest to the fire, was evacuated. At the same time, Gonzalez noted that some residents of the Versailles district, which is a bit further from the tank farm, also elected to flee.
On the streets of Matanzas, a city of around 140,000 people located on Matnzas Bay, were numerous ambulances, police, and fire vehicles.
According to officials, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel traveled to the fire region early on Saturday morning.
Local meteorologist Elier Pila displayed satellite photographs of the area depicting a dense plume of black smoke extending from the fire's origin point westward to Havana's east side.
This plume might be approximately 150 kilometers long, Pila stated on Twitter.