Pope encourages Cuban search crews after Matanzas blaze

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ROME (AP) — Pope Francis is offering support to firefighters and search crews in Cuba following the fire and explosions at a big oil tank farm in the western province of Matanzas.

In a telegram Monday to Cuban bishops, Francis said he was closely following news of the “unfortunate accident.” He said he was praying for all Cubans and especially those affected by the blaze for “the Lord to give you strength in this time of pain.”

The blaze began Friday night when lightning struck a storage tank during a thunderstorm, and the fire spread to a second tank early Saturday, triggering a series of explosions, officials have said. At least one body has been discovered and more than a dozen firefighters were missing.

The Argentine pope has long been close to the Cuban church and visited the island in 2015.