Kuni .G. Isaac
A Heavy explosion erupts at the historical five-star hotel “Saratoga” in Old Havana the death toll has risen to 26. The deceased include four children and a pregnant woman, Cuban authorities stated.
A Spanish tourist has also been killed, according to Spanish President Sanchez.
The explosion according to officials at the Saratoga luxury hotel was suspected to be nuclear, but initial investigation pointed to a gas leak.
“It wasn’t a bomb or an attack,” President Miguel Díaz-Canel said. “It’s an unfortunate accident.”
The hotel was arranging to reopen on Tuesday after closing two years ago during the coronavirus pandemic, it said in an April 28 Facebook post, the most recent on its page. Havana Gov. Reinaldo García Zapata said the hotel was undergoing repairs and there were no tourists inside,
There were no tourists in the hotel at the time of the blast. Saratoga has undergone a major renovation over the past two years and is set to reopen to tourists next Tuesday.
Video footage shows heavy damage to the hotel.
According to the hotel owner, 53 people were working at the hotel at the time of the explosion. Eleven of them died. Six people were injured and 13 people are still missing.
The search for survivors is still ongoing. Yesterday, with the help of rescue dogs, another person was rescued alive from the rubble.
Major explosion in hotel in Cuba, deaths and injuries reported
The initial investigation shows that the explosion was the result of a gas leak, the Cuban authorities report. President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez is on the scene, along with Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz.
The luxury hotel Saratoga is situated about 100 meters from the parliament building in Havana.
The building has an illustrious past, dating back to the late 1800s, it was initially a department store for a Spanish merchant. This makes it older than the nearby parliament building. In the 1930s, it became an attraction for wealthy tourists as an accommodation. Politicians also made regular use of it.
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