The explosion due to a gas leak in the Saratoga hotel in Havana It has claimed 30 lives until this Saturday afternoon, including that of a Spanish woman, in addition to leaving 84 injured.
These figures are provisional and could continue to rise in the coming hours, because the debris removal work in the building they continue and they are still looking for about 19 people, mostly hotel workers.
In fact, technicians and heavy machinery worked throughout the day in the ruins of the building with great difficulty, because the infrastructure is very deteriorated and new landslides could occur. The objective of the rescuers is still to access the basement, because it is suspected that there could be some trapped person.
the Cuban president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, who returned this Saturday to visit the scene, indicated in statements to the media that there are “indications that there could be” more people inside. The work is complex and “it takes a lot of work to move forward,” she explained.
The governor of the province of Havana, Reinaldo Garcia Zapataindicated in this regard at a press conference that the floor of the ground floor and the first floor collapsed on the basement.
“Work has been uninterrupted until now and we will continue to work like this until we rescue the last person who may be under the rubble“, Garcia assured at a press conference, who acknowledged that they do not know how long they will need to access the basement.
Among the deceased were four minors and a pregnant woman.
According to him Ministry of Public Health (Minsap), the deceased are 13 men and 14 women between 10 and 77 years old. Among them were four minors and a pregnant woman. The Spanish Government, for its part, has lamented the death in the explosion of a national, the Galician Cristina Lopez-Ceron Ugarte29 years old.
The Minsap added that the injured in the accident there were 81, of which 37 remain hospitalized after 17 were discharged throughout this Saturday. Eight of them remain critical and six serious. Of the total admitted, 15 are minors. Among the wounded is the Spanish Cesar Roman Santallapartner of the deceased Spanish woman.
Regarding the disappeared, the governor of Havana indicated that they are looking for 19 people because their families fear that they may be found in the rubble.
Among them are about a dozen hotel workers, as explained at a press conference by the delegate for the Cuban West of the Cuban state tourist group Gaviota, Roberto Enriquez Calzadilla.
a gas leak
The Cuban Government has advanced that it seems that it was a gas leakage, as preliminary investigations point out. A commission is investigating the facts.
Díaz-Canel ruled out that it was “a bomb” or an attack
At the time of the explosion a liquefied gas tanker truck I was parked in front of the hotel and recharging a hotel deposit. It is believed that the hose could have a crack. Díaz-Canel already spoke this Friday of an “unfortunate accident” and ruled out that it was a “bomb” or an attack.
The explosion caused a section of the building -seven stories high- to collapse and the facade of the first three floors to come off, causing a rain of tons of rubble on a normally busy sidewalk.
Others 17 adjoining buildings were affected by the accident and in the next few days a technical evaluation will be carried out on three blocks and the hotel itself to see if they are “salvable” or need to be demolished.
The Saratoga It was built in 1880 and from 1911 it functioned as a hotel. Its last restoration took place in 2005, according to official media. With five stars, the hotel was considered one of the more luxurious from the city. The establishment is in full Paseo del Pradoone of the main avenues of Old Havana, in the historic heart of the Cuban capital, one of its great historical claims.
The event takes place when the island’s tourism sector tries to reactivate itself after two years of forced hiatus due to the pandemic, which has exacerbated the country’s economic difficulties.
The hotel was considered one of the most luxurious in the city
The governor of Havana stressed that this accident “has nothing to do with the safety that Cuba has shown” for international tourists. Tourism is the second largest sector of the Cuban gross domestic product (GDP), with a contribution of 10% in 2019, and the second source of foreign exchange earnings.
Cuba has received more than 450,000 tourists between January and April and aims to achieve 2.5 million foreign visitors for the whole year. The figure is significantly higher than the previous year, but still far from the pre-pandemic volume.