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Cuba: Massive explosion devastates Havana hotel

Published : May 07, 2022 17:32 IST T+T-
Search operations are still ongoing following the blast at the five-star venue.

Search operations are still ongoing following the blast at the five-star venue.

A blast has ripped off parts of the facade of the Saratoga Hotel in central Havana.

A massive explosion ripped through the Saratoga Hotel in central Havana on May 6.

What do we know so far?

At least 18 people have died due to the explosion, the Cuban government said on May 6. At least 70 others were missing, Dr. Julio Guerra Izquierdo, chief of hospital services at the Ministry of Health, told reporters. Local media reported 22 deaths from the blast. At least 14 children were also among those injured, the government said on the evening of May 6. At least two ambulances and five fire trucks were dispatched to the blast site.

The office of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said the blast was due to a gas leak. The Cuban president has ruled out a bombing as the cause of the explosion. "It's not a bomb or an attack. It is a tragic accident," Diaz-Canel said.

Rescue operations ongoing

Diaz-Canel visited the blast site along with other Cuban leaders. Police have cordoned off the blast area, with rescue operations still underway. Cuban state media reported that the hotel was closed, and only employees were inside the building at the time of the blast. A nearby school was also evacuated due to the explosion.

What have the global reactions been?

Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard expressed solidarity to the victims and those affected by the blast on Twitter. The U.S. Embassy in Havana called on Americans to avoid the affected area and notify loved ones of their well-being.

The Hotel Saratoga's building in Old Havana dates back to the 19th century. The five-star hotel has 96 rooms and several bars and restaurants.

rm, wd/msh (AP, Reuters)