Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua struggles to control fire at sole refinery

A man walks near an explosion caused by a fire at a fuel storage tank belonging to the Puma Energy company in Puerto Sandino Nicaragua 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The blaze has caused clouds of dark noxious smoke

Fire fighters in Nicaragua are trying to bring under control a huge fire at the country's only oil refinery.

The blaze started two days ago when one of four big fuel tanks exploded at the Puma Energy facility in the Pacific port of Puerto Sandino.

A second tank caught fire on Thursday.

No casualties have been reported but the authorities have warned residents to avoid the clouds of smoke full of noxious gases which have been billowing thousands of metres into the air.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The blaze has caused concerns about the impact to health from the noxious smoke
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The blaze started on Wednesday and crews were working to prevent it spreading to other fuel tanks
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The authorities say they are investigating the causes of the fire

Shelters have been prepared in case the wind changes direction away from the ocean and towards the land.

Experts from the US and Canada are in the country to advise officials on how to bring the fire under control.

Puma Energy said it was working to contain the situation and emphasised that safety for local residents was a priority.

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