Disasters & Accidents

Cuba says it is ‘impossible’ to identify remains found in fire

Havana, Aug 17 (EFE).- Cuban authorities said Wednesday that it is “impossible to absolutely identify” the identity of remains found in the area of ​​the industrial fire in Matanzas.

At a press conference, Jorge Gonzalez Perez, Cuban Society of Legal Medicine president, said – despite a DNA test not being carried out due to the degree of burning – that the remains correspond to the 14 people missing.

On Aug. 5, a huge fire broke out at the Matanzas fuel depot base, when lightning struck one of the eight tanks in the industrial park, according Cuban authorities.

The fire caused strong explosions, with flames of several tens of meters, and a column of toxic black smoke that reached Havana, 104 kilometers away.

Gonzalez Perez made his intervention shortly after having met with the relatives and friends of the disappeared – and of whom the coroner did not want to reveal their names and ages – to whom he conveyed his condolences.

In the area of ​​the fire, considered the largest industrial disaster in the country’s history, 754 fragments were found in “14 groups of bone remains,” according to Gonzalez Perez.

The fragments found were exposed to temperatures that reached 2,000C, according to the expert.

To find them, according to the account of the events, it was necessary to penetrate a layer of solid fuel that formed during the fire, which reached four tanks with a capacity of 50,000 cubic meters each.

According to Gonzalez Perez, Cuba consulted the International Committee of the Red Cross, the president of the International Association of Forensic Sciences, Angel Carracedo, and experts in different countries of the continent and Europe, whose names were not revealed.

The forensic expert added that “all the technology for any type of identification” is available in the country, but not for events of “these characteristics.”

The event has a provisional balance of 16 dead and 132 injured (of which 17 remain hospitalized.)

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, decreed Wednesday two days of official mourning from Thursday in tribute to the people who died in the serious fire.

The Cuban flag will remain hoisted at half-mast as a sign of mourning and mourning from midnight until Friday, the day on which funeral services will be held.

On that day, a tribute will take place at the Matanzas Firefighters Museum, between 10:00 and 17:00 local hours (from 14:00 to 20:00 GMT). EFE


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