The death toll in the Saratoga Hotel explosion has risen to 22 and over 70 people have been hospitalized. Yet another horrible tragedy upon the Cuban people under a communist regime ill-equiped to deal with disaster.
Explosion at Hotel in Cuba Kills 22
A powerful explosion rocked central Havana on Friday morning, destroying parts of a luxury hotel and damaging nearby buildings just yards from the Cuban Capitol building.
At least 22 people were killed and dozens were injured, the president’s office said. More were missing. Among the dead were a pregnant woman and a child.
The devastating blast came as Cuba is trying to revive a tourism industry that is a key pillar of its fragile economy and that had been upended by the pandemic.
Videos and photos shared on social media showed ambulances rushing to the scene and much of the facade of the Hotel Saratoga destroyed. Rubble was piled on the street, and smoke billowed into the sky.
“There was a stink, like a chemical, that burned your nose,” said Miriam Díaz, 56, a Havana resident who lives behind the hotel and was on a bus arriving home at the time of the blast. “We couldn’t get out because the door wouldn’t open.”
The hotel, a popular destination for international visitors and celebrities, was undergoing renovation work and was not open to guests at the time of the blast, government officials said.
Cuba’s president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, went to the scene shortly after the explosion, along with Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz. The office of the Cuban presidency said on Twitter that preliminary investigations indicated the explosion, shortly before 11 a.m., was caused by a gas leak.
At least 64 people, including 50 adults and 14 children, were initially hospitalized as a result of the blast, officials said. Many apartments were damaged, and those residents affected were being transferred to a safe location while repairs were carried out.
“Havana is in shock today after the accidental explosion of a gas tank at the Hotel Saratoga, which caused a large part of the building to collapse,’’ Mr. Díaz-Canel wrote on Twitter. “Our deepest condolences and sincere support to the families and friends of the victims.”
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