UpdateA powerful explosion, perhaps due to a gas leak, partially destroyed a historic luxury hotel in central Havana on Friday, killing at least 22 people.
Four bodies were recovered from the rubble in the evening, an hour after the official death toll was announced at 18, including a child, and more than 50 were injured, the TV news reported. Authorities said the survivors were under the rubble and sent a rescue squad to search for them, including a woman who had been in contact with rescue workers.
11 injured in “worst case scenario”
Not long ago, Miguel Garcia, director of Calicut Garcia Hospital, where some of the injured were being treated, said eleven of them were in “very bad condition.” Miguel Hernan Esteves, director of Hermanos Almegiros Hospital, said: “A two-year-old boy is undergoing surgery for a fractured skull. For his part, Luis Antonio Torres Iribar, the first secretary of the Communist Party in Havana, noted that at midnight, “13 people (were missing)” and that “others may have been trapped beneath the rubble.” Authorities say none of the victims were foreigners.
The Iconic Hotel has been closed for 2 years
The hotel, established to mark the green facade of old Havana, has been closed to tourists for two years under construction. Only workers and staff were preparing to reopen it, which was scheduled for May 10. “According to the first findings, the explosion was caused by a gas leak,” the Cuban president’s Twitter account said. According to Alexis Costa Silva, the historic district chairman of the Cuban capital Alexis Costa Silva, the liquefied gas cylinder was replaced at the hotel. The cook sensed the smell of gas and discovered that there were cracks in the pipe, which was the cause of the explosion.
“Not a bomb or an attack”
“It’s not a bomb or an attack, it’s a tragic accident,” said President Miguel Diaz-Connell, who arrived shortly afterwards, seeking to put an end to the rumors on social media provoking the attacks. In the 1990s, Cuba was funded by deportations.
Washington’s State Department spokeswoman Nate Price said, “We extend our heartfelt condolences to all those affected by the tragedy.” European diplomat Joseph Borel said on Twitter that he had spoken with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez to “be interested in the situation after the explosion in Havana and convey my condolences and my solidarity with the Cuban people.” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Cuba’s close ally, called on his Cuban opponent to express his condolences: “The Cuban people receive the solidarity and support of the people of the world, and especially of Venezuela’s Bolivarians.”
Thrown four floors
The first four floors of a 5-star Saradoka hotel with 96 rooms, two restaurants and a rooftop pool exploded at 11am (3pm GMT) and debris and debris were scattered on the floor. Glass, AFP journalists noted. A few minutes after the eruption, a stone was thrown from the famous Capitol, spreading a thick plume of smoke and dust on Avenue du Prado, where the establishment is located. “A big” explosion and “dust cloud reached the park (in front of the hotel, editor’s note), many ran out,” testified Pedicap driver Rogelio Garcia, who went ahead. Saratoga during the tragedy. “There was a terrible explosion, everything fell apart,” said one woman, whose face was covered in dust and she did not want to be named.
A dozen ambulances were mobilized
A dozen ambulances and five fire engines were mobilized, the AFP said. Towards the end of the afternoon, the tanker was ejected while a machine was gradually clearing the rubble. Several vehicles were destroyed near the hotel, which is known to have hosted many celebrities in recent years, including Mick Jagger, Beyonc மற்றும் and Madonna. Built in 1880 to house shops, the building was converted into a hotel in 1933 and converted into a luxury company in 2005.
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