Published On: Fri, May 6th, 2022

At least 9 dead after explosion hits hotel in downtown Havana, Cuban officials say


At least nine people are dead and others could still be trapped after an explosion hit a downtown Havana hotel Friday, the office of the Cuban president and witnesses said.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel was at the scene of the Hotel Saratoga, where early investigations show the explosion was likely caused by a gas leak, according to updates on the president’s Twitter account. Initially, there were eight fatalities but the president said in an update late Friday afternoon that the number had increased to nine. About 40 people are injured, he tweeted.

Search and rescue is underway at the hotel, according to the updates, citing Luis Antonio Torres Iribar, the first secretary of the Party in Havana.

Iribar said Friday afternoon that people are still trapped alive in the rubble and officials are preparing to rescue them.

The president’s office said Old Havana Mayor Alexis Acosta Silva, informed them that the children from a school near the hotel were evacuated, and none were hurt.

Image: Rescuers work after an explosion in the Saratoga Hotel in Havana, on May 6, 2022.
Rescuers work after an explosion at the Hotel Saratoga in Havana on May 6, 2022.Adalberto Roque / AFP – Getty Images

A student told NBC News that the explosion woke him. “I was at home and heard a loud noise and I stood in my balcony and looked in that direction,” the student said in Spanish. “I thought it was coming from the store, but no, it came from Saratoga.”

“It was a large explosion. I felt it, I was asleep and it woke me,” he said.

Another witness saw smoke and flames coming from the building, according to Reuters.

Image: Rescuers work after an explosion in the Saratoga Hotel in Havana, on May 6, 2022.
Rescuers work after an explosion at the Hotel Saratoga in Havana on May 6, 2022.Adalberto Roque / AFP – Getty Images

Photos from Granma, the Cuban communist party’s official daily, showed images of the multistory Hotel Saratoga whose walls appeared to have been blown out by the blast up several stories.

Police and rescue workers flocked to the scene, cordoning off key points and buildings nearby, including the historic Capitolio building.

The Hotel Saratoga is on the prohibited accommodations list for U.S. citizens, issued by the U.S. Department of State in 2020. Previously, the premier hotel was frequented by U.S. celebrities.

This is a breaking news story. Please return for updates.

Minyvonne Burke contributed.





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