Havana, May 7 (EFE).- Cuban authorities said at least 25 people had been killed in an explosion at Havana’s Hotel Saratoga on Friday evening.
The coordinator of the Havana local government Orestes Llanes Mestre told Televisión Cubana that three more bodies had been recovered during rescue efforts overnight.
Earlier in the day, the office of president Miguel Diaz-Canel said a child and a pregnant woman were among the fatalities.
More than a score of the 64 people admitted to hospitals with injuries from the blast were listed in serious or critical condition.
Spain’s foreign ministry said one Spaniard was killed in the accident.
The fatalities include a child and a pregnant woman, President Miguel Diaz-Canel’s office said on Twitter.
Diaz-Canel, who rushed to the Saratoga after the blast, was quick to rule out foul play.
“There has been no bomb nor attack, it’s a regrettable accident,” he said at the scene in the wake of the explosion, which took place just before 11:00 am as a tanker truck was delivering liquefied natural gas to the hotel.
Authorities say it appears the blast was caused by a leak of some of the highly flammable fuel during the transfer process.
The explosion gutted the lower half of the six-story hotel in Old Havana and tons of rubble littered the street below, partially burying the tanker truck.
Children at a nearby school were evacuated safe and sound, the ruling Cuban Communist Party said.
Diaz-Canel, who visited hospitals treating the injured, praised the work of first responders and health care workers and hailed Cubans for flocking to blood banks after authorities appealed for donations.
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 after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. EFE