Disasters & Accidents

8 Die in blast at hotel in Cuban capital

Havana, May 6 (EFE).- Eight people were killed and some 30 others injured Friday in an explosion at Havana’s Hotel Saratoga, the Cuban government said, discounting terrorism as a factor.

“There has been no bomb nor attack, it’s a regrettable accident,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel said at the scene not long after his office’s Twitter account retweeted a post relating that preliminary investigations pointed to a gas leak as the cause of the blast.

Besides the dead and injured, another 13 people remained unaccounted for following the explosion that gutted the lower half of the six-story hotel in Old Havana.

Diaz-Canel, Prime Minister Manuel Marrero, and parliament speaker Esteban Lazo went to the Saratoga soon after the blast and visited one of the hospitals treating the injured before returning to the disaster scene.

The Saratoga first opened its doors in 1933 in a neoclassical structure dating from 1880. The building underwent a major restoration in 2005.

With a five-star rating, the Saratoga is one of Havana’s most luxurious hotels.

Gaviota, the state-run company that operates the Saratoga, said that only employees and company executives were inside the hotel at the time of the blast, which came amid preparations to re-open for guests.

Children at a nearby school were evacuated safe and sound, the ruling Cuban Communist Party said.

The explosion left a mound of rubble taller than a person on the pavement in front of the building. EFE jpm/dr

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