Yet another building has collapsed in Havana, killing at least three people and trapping not only residents under the rubble, but first responders who tried to rescue them as well. Cuba continues to suffer the effects of 64 years of socialism, which criminally neglects housing for the people while building new luxury hotels for foreign tourists.
Building collapse in Old Havana leaves residents and first responders trapped
A multifamily building located at 362 Lamparilla Street, between Villegas and Aguacate, in Old Havana, collapsed Tuesday night, as confirmed by DIARIO DE CUBA at the scene.
Rescue forces, ambulances, firefighters, police, and dozens of people were deployed at the scene in the rain.
According to preliminary data from rescue forces at the scene, there are at least three fatalities, including two firefighters; two other people are missing, one of them being another firefighter, and 54 people have been rescued.
A video posted by Edmunto Dantés Junior on Facebook showed how a second collapse caught the rescue team inside the collapsed building off guard. It is not clear if all the men involved in the operation managed to get out.
A State Security social media account, “La Página de Mauro Torres 2.0,” also published the news. “According to the latest information, there are reported trapped individuals, including members of the Rescue and Salvage team of the Cuban Fire Department,” they posted.
This morning, forces from the Ministry of the Interior, the Public Health system, and authorities from the Communist Party and Government of the province and municipality remained at the scene, the brief note added.
On September 28th, a man died due to a collapse in Central Havana. One week earlier, another collapse in Old Havana resulted in the death of another 54-year-old Cuban.
The Minister of Construction, René Mesa Villafaña, mentioned in a recent episode of “Mesa Redonda” that out of the dwellings in Cuba, 853,000 are in poor or fair condition and need to be rebuilt or undergo maintenance. This figure, which represents 21% of this type of property in the country, seems conservative when considering the situation in major cities and the state-run shelter system, which is overwhelmed by the number of homeless families.
In Havana alone, there are 104 shelters or transit communities, and in the past two years, there have been protests in many of them due to poor living conditions and the long stay of the residents, which sometimes exceeds 30 years waiting for housing assignments.
In May, several Cuban women and their underage children placed their belongings on a path on Paseo del Prado in Old Havana, blocking traffic and banging pots and pans to demand shelter because the partial collapse of a building on Prado and Virtudes, where they lived, left them homeless.
To justify the housing crisis in Cuba, Mesa recalled that when Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, there were less than 900,000 homes, and only 25% had sanitary facilities. “Today, we have completed about 4,054,000, all with the necessary amenities to live in them (electricity, sewage, and water),” he explained. He did not clarify if this figure includes the thousands of makeshift homes built by desperate Cubans, many of which lack basic services, and the approximately 60,000 that still have dirt floors, as acknowledged by the National Assembly of People’s Power.