The explosion due to a gas leak at the Saratoga hotel in Havana has claimed 27 lives until this Saturday afternoon, including that of a Spanish woman, in addition to leaving 81 injured.
These figures are also provisional and could continue to rise in the coming hoursbecause the debris removal work in the building continues and 19 people are still being sought, 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 poor and new landslides could occur.
The objective of the rescuers is still to access the basement, because it is suspected that there could be someone trapped there.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who returned this Saturday to visit the scene of the events, indicated in statements to the media that there is "indications that it could" be more people inside. The debris is complex and "it takes a lot of work to move forward"he explained.
The governor of the province of Havana, Reinaldo García Zapata, indicated 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 going on 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.
According to the 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 mourned death in the explosion of a national, the Galician Cristina López-Cerón Ugarte, 29 years old. According to the MINSAP, it seems that her life is not in danger.
The Minsap added that there were 81 injured in the accident, 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 a Cuban-American and Spaniard César Román Santalla, a partner of the deceased Spanish woman.
Regarding the disappeared, the governor of Havana indicated that 19 people are being searched because their families fear that they may be found among the rubble.
Among them are about a dozen hotel workers, as Roberto Enríquez Calzadilla, delegate for western Cuba of the Cuban state tourism group Gaviota, explained at a press conference.
A GAS LEAK
The Cuban government has advanced that it seems that it was a gas leak, as preliminary investigations point out. A commission is investigating the facts.
At the time of the explosion a liquefied gas tanker truck 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 a "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.
Another 17 adjoining buildings were affected by the accident and in the next few days a technical evaluation will be carried out three blocks and to the hotel itself to see if they are "salvageable" Or do you have to demolish them?
The Saratoga 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 most luxurious in the city. The establishment is located in the Paseo del Prado, one of the main avenues of Old Havanain 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 governor of Havana stressed that this accident "It has nothing to do with the security that has been shown" Cuba 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 hopes to achieve 2.5 million foreign visitors for the year as a whole. The figure is significantly higher than the previous year, but still far from the pre-pandemic volume.