Havana (CNN) — At least 43 people have died and 97 were injured after Friday’s explosion at the Hotel Saratoga in Havana, the Health Ministry confirmed in a statement Tuesday night.
The Ministry of Health indicated that among the deceased, there are 4 minors, a pregnant woman and a foreigner. Likewise, it made public a list with the men of the victims who have been identified.
On Tuesday, the president of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, visited for the third time the vicinity of the Hotel Saratoga, according to a publication of the Cuban Presidential Office. Diaz-Canel indicated in networks that “The Saratoga Hotel’s Priority Remains Finding the Missing”.
Possible cause of the explosion
A gas leak is believed to be the cause of the explosion at the Saratoga Hotel, according to the Cuban Presidential Office, which said more details would be forthcoming.
“Everything indicates that the explosion was caused by an accident,” said the Cuban Presidential Office in a tweet.
Witnesses described a “huge explosion” apparently destroying buses and cars outside the hotel in the city center.
Images from the scene showed the building’s at least three-story blown-up facade adorned with green and white stucco. Columns of dust and smoke could be seen rising around the rubble on the ground.
A CNN crew on the ground saw a bloodied woman being carried from the blast site. Firefighters were using their bare hands to move broken pieces of granite and stone to pull people out of the rubble. Pieces of metal awnings, balconies and large chunks of stone were scattered about 90 meters away from the hotel.
Díaz-Canel visited this Friday the place of the explosion and the Hermanos Ameijeras hospital, where several victims were sent, according to images shared by the Presidential Office on Twitter.
He said the blast was “not a bomb or an attack, it’s an unfortunate accident” after returning to the blast site.
Hospitals continue to treat all the injured and rescue activities continue, he added.
The Mexican foreign minister tweeted their solidarity with the victims of the explosion. “Our solidarity with the victims and those affected, as well as with the people of that endearing brother town,” said Marcelo Ebrard.
The hotel was built at the end of the 19th century and, in the 1930s, it was one of the most important hotels in the city. It has 96 rooms since it reopened in 2005 after a refurbishment, according to its website. Personalities such as the writer Rafael Alberti have passed through its doors.
Two Spanish tourists were affected by the explosion
Two Spanish tourists were affected by the explosion. A tourist died and another was seriously injured after the explosion at the Hotel Saratoga in Havana on Friday, the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, announced this Saturday.
Tragic news reaches us from Cuba. A Spanish tourist has died and another Spanish citizen is seriously injured after the explosion of the Saratoga hotel.
All our love for their families and those of all the victims and injured. Our support also to the Cuban people.
– Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) May 7, 2022
“Tragic news reaches us from Cuba. A Spanish tourist has died and another Spanish citizen is seriously injured after the explosion of the Saratoga hotel,” Sánchez tweeted.
“All our love for their families and those of all the victims and injured. Our support for the Cuban people,” added Sánchez.
A “huge explosion”
Witnesses told CNN correspondent Patrick Oppmann at the scene that a “huge explosion” had occurred.
Images from the scene show the destroyed facade of at least three floors of the building. Plumes of dust and smoke could also be seen rising around the debris on the ground.
Buses and cars outside the hotel were also destroyed.
With information from Patrick Oppmann, Karol, Abel Alvarado, Karol Suárez, Jorge Engels and claudia rebaza.