Eight people were killed and around 30 injured in a powerful explosion that partially destroyed a five-star hotel undergoing renovations in the center Havana, Cuba, Fridaythe government said, doubling the confirmed death toll.
“Eight people have died so far and about 30 are hospitalized,” the Cuban presidency tweeted after the explosion likely caused a gas leak.
Shortly after 11:00, a cloud of dust and smoke rose from the five-star Saratoga hotel in the Cuban capital as the explosion – reportedly caused by a gas leak – tore off much of the facade and detonated. Windows.
The first four floors of the historic structure, which was empty of guests awaiting renovation, were gutted by the blast.
Earlier, the Cuban presidency, in a tweet, quoted Havana Communist Party official Luis Antonio Torres Iribar as confirming four dead while “13 people remain missing”.
“The first results indicate that the explosion was caused by a gas leak,” the Cuban presidency said on Twitter.
AFP reporters witnessed the scene of rescuers as they walked through the debris accumulated at the foot of the hotel.
Several vehicles near the hotel, known for hosting celebrities such as Madonna and Beyonce, were destroyed.
Ambulances and five fire trucks rushed to the scene and the police cordoned off the area, dispersing the people who swarmed the scene.
President Miguel Diaz-Canel, accompanied by Prime Minister Manuel Marrero and National Assembly President Esteban Lazo, arrived at the site as the rescue operation began.
According to the website of the Hotel Saratoga, it is an exclusive property with 96 rooms, two bars, two restaurants, a spa and a gym.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, meanwhile, said President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will not cancel a trip to Cuba scheduled for Sunday.
“Our solidarity with the victims and those affected, as well as with the people of that dear brotherly people,” tweeted the minister.