The balance sheet is heavy. In Cuba, a powerful explosion, probably caused by a gas leak, partially destroyed a historic luxury hotel in central Havana on Friday, May 6, killing at least 22 people. Four corpses were taken out of the rubble in the early evening, the television news said, an hour after the announcement of an official toll reporting 18 deaths, including a child, and more than 50 injured.

Authorities said survivors were under the rubble and sent a canine squad to search for them, including a woman that rescuers had contact with. A little earlier, Miguel Garcia, the director of the Calixto Garcia hospital where some of the injured are treated, had reported that eleven of them were “in extremely serious condition”. “A two-year-old child is undergoing surgery for a fractured skull”revealed Miguel Hernan Estévez, director of the Hermanos Almejeiras Hospital.

“Neither a bomb nor an attack”

No foreigners are believed to be among the victims, authorities said. Emblematic establishment of Old Havana with its green facade, the hotel, under construction, had been closed to tourists for two years. Only workers and employees were inside preparing for its reopening, scheduled for May 10.

“According to the first findings, the explosion was caused by a gas leak”, is it specified on the Twitter account of the Cuban presidency. According to local authorities, quoted by state media Cubadebate, a liquid gas cylinder was being changed in the hotel. The cook smelled gas and discovered a crack in the pipe which caused the explosion. “It was neither a bomb nor an attack, it was a regrettable accident”said President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who arrived shortly after, wanting to put an end to the rumors on social networks.

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