A strong explosion occurred at the Saratoga Hotel in the historic center of Havana on Friday around 10:50 in the morning, Cuban time. So far 22 deaths have been reported, including a minor, while over 50 were injured. Although many initially believed it to be a terrorist attack, the President of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, ruled out that possibility. It has been reported by Cuban media that the explosion of a liquefied gas container supplying cooking gas to the kitchen of the hotel caused the incident.
According to Alexis Acosta Silva, mayor of Old Havana, “a container of liquefied gas was being set up in the hotel. The cook smelled gas, checked the connections and discovered that there was a crack in the supply hose. That’s what caused the explosion.”
President Díaz-Canel announced that rescue teams and specialized forces are at the location, helping the people affected and assessing the damage. “The most important thing is to allow doctors, paramedics and rescue forces to do their job,” he said.
"No ha sido una bomba ni un atentado, es un lamentable accidente", asegura @DiazCanelB sobre los hechos en el hotel Saratoga.
Nuestros hospitales están en función de todos los lesionados y se continúa trabajando en las actividades de rescate. pic.twitter.com/iBeE6zyfGb
— Presidencia Cuba 🇨🇺 (@PresidenciaCuba) May 6, 2022
“It was not a bomb or an attack, it was an unfortunate accident,” President Díaz-Canel told the press about the explosion at Hotel Saratoga. “Our hospitals are attending to all the injured and work continues on rescue activities,” he added.
“Work hard here, we have to save our people,” Díaz-Canel told the director of the Calixto García Hospital at the end of his stop at the medical institution, where more than 20 patients are being treated.
Images circulating in social media show that part of the external infrastructure of the building has collapsed. Three floors of the facility were completely devastated, while authorities have warned that the upper floors may collapse also. The hotel was closed for two years due to the pandemic and was being prepared for reopening on May 10 when the accident happened.
On the scene are forces from the Fire Department and the Police in search of people who may remain trapped under the debris. Medical teams are present to provide medical aid to the injured and transfer them to hospitals for treatment.
On the opposite side of the building is the headquarters of the Cuban National Assembly. The Baptist church El Calvario, headquarters of the offices of the Western Baptist Convention, which are all in the neighborhood of the Saratoga Hotel, also suffered damage from the explosion.
A primary school and the famous Teatro Martí are also located opposite to the destroyed hotel. The children of the Concepción Arenal primary school were quickly evacuated to the National Capitol, seat of the Cuban National Assembly.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel went to the Hermanos Ameijeras hospital, where he was informed of the status of the hospitalized patients, including a child, as can be seen in photographs circulating on social media and press. He was accompanied by Prime Minister Manuel Marrero and the Minister of Health, José Ángel Portal. The president has announced that the injured will be provided all necessary support.
Venezuela and Mexico express solidarity and condolence
President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela expressed solidarity to the Cuban people and to President Miguel Díaz-Canel.
Expreso mi solidaridad con el pueblo cubano y el Presidente @DiazCanelB por el lamentable accidente ocurrido en el Hotel Saratoga, en La Habana. Nuestro abrazo a los familiares de las víctimas, deseamos la pronta recuperación de las y los heridos. #FuerzaCuba ¡Estamos Contigo! pic.twitter.com/8Fo1og0cQc
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) May 6, 2022
The Foreign Affairs Secretary of Mexico, Marcelo Ebrad, expressed sorrow for the lamentable incident. “Our solidarity to victims and those affected as well as to the people of our beloved sister nation,” said Ebrard.
“The scheduled tour will proceed as planned,” he added, referring to the scheduled visit to Cuba of the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on Saturday.
Featured image: Scenes from the site of the explosion, Hotel Saratoga in the historic center of Havana, capital of Cuba. Photo: Granma
(Alba Ciudad) with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
- orinocotribunehttps://orinocotribune.com/author/orinocotribune/March 4, 2024