An explosion due to a gas leak at the Saratoga Hotel in Havana killed 27 people through Saturday, including Spanish women, in addition to 81 injured.
These figures are also preliminary and may continue to rise in the coming hours as debris removal work on the building continues and 19 people, mostly hotel workers, are still being sought.
In fact, technicians and heavy equipment worked all day in the ruins of the building with great difficulty, because the infrastructure was badly worn out and new landslides could occur.
The task of the rescuers is still to get into the basement, as there are suspicions that there may be someone locked up there.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who returned this Saturday to visit the scene, said in statements to the media that there were “signs that there could be” other people inside. The wreckage is complex and “progressing requires a lot of work,” he explained.
The kings send a message of sadness and horror to the president of Cuba
The kings sent a message of “sadness and horror” to Cuban President Arturo Diaz-Canel in connection with the tragedy at the Saratoga Hotel in Havana, in which a young Spanish tourist died and her boyfriend was seriously injured. wounded .
“United by the pain of the friendly Cuban people,” said Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, who wanted to express their “support and solidarity to the families of the victims and best wishes for the recovery of the injured,” sources told Efe. from the Royal House.
The Kings express in the message their “great sadness, horror and deep sense of regret” at the news of the explosion, which resulted in “so many deaths and injuries”.
The King addresses President Díaz-Canel with “the highest respect and love” and conveys “the most cordial greetings to the beloved Cuban people.”
The governor of the province of Havana, Reinaldo Garcia Zapata, pointed out in this regard at a press conference that the floor of the first and second floors had collapsed into the basement.
“We have been running smoothly so far and will continue to do so until we rescue the last person who might be under the rubble,” Garcia said at a press conference, admitting that they do not know how long it will take them to gain access to basement. .
According to the Ministry of Health (MinSap), 13 men and 14 women, aged 10 to 77, have died. Among them are four minors and a pregnant woman.
Killed 13 men and 14 women aged 10 to 77 years.
The Spanish government, for its part, expressed its regret over the death of 29-year-old Galician citizen Cristina López-Seron Ugarte in the explosion. According to MINSAP, his life does not appear to be in danger.
Minsup added that 81 people were injured in the accident, of which 37 remain in hospitals after 17 were discharged during this Saturday. Eight of them remain critical and six are serious. Of the total number of admitted 15 minors.
Among the wounded are Cuban-American and Spaniard Cesar Roman Santalla, the partner of the deceased Spaniard.
As for the missing, the governor of Havana said 19 people are wanted because their families fear they might be found among the rubble.
Among them are about a dozen hotel workers, Roberto Henriquez Calzadilla, a delegate from the western part of Cuba for the Cuban state tourism group Gaviota, explained at a press conference.
The Cuban government said it appeared to be a gas leak, according to preliminary investigations. The commission is investigating the facts.
At the time of the explosion, an LPG tank truck was parked in front of the hotel, filling the hotel’s tank. It is assumed that the hose may have had a crack.
Diaz-Canel already spoke this Friday of an “accident” and ruled out that it was a “bomb” or a terrorist attack.
The explosion caused part of the seven-story building to collapse and the facades of the first three floors tore off, raining tons of rubble onto the normally busy pavement.
The accident affected 17 nearby houses.
The accident affected another 17 adjacent buildings, and in the coming days, a technical assessment of the three buildings and the hotel itself will be carried out to determine whether they can be “saved” or need to be demolished.
Saratoga was built in 1880, and since 1911 functioned as a hotel. According to official media, its last restoration took place in 2005.
The five-star hotel was considered one of the most luxurious in the city. The institution is located on Paseo del Prado, one of the main avenues of Old Havana, in the historic center of the Cuban capital, one of its greatest historical attractions.
The event comes as the island’s tourism sector is trying to restart after a two-year forced hiatus due to the pandemic, which has exacerbated the country’s economic hardship.
The governor of Havana stressed that this accident “has nothing to do with the safety that Cuba has demonstrated” for foreign tourists.
Tourism is the second largest sector of the Cuban Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with a 10% contribution in 2019 and the second source of foreign exchange earnings.
Cuba welcomed over 450,000 tourists between January and April and hopes to reach 2.5 million foreign visitors for the year as a whole. The figure is significantly higher than the previous year, but still far from the pre-pandemic volume.
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