Huge explosion damages hotel, kills eight in central Havana
30 people have been hospitalised and much of the hotel was destroyed by the major blast at 10.50 am local and ET.
A huge explosion badly damaged the Hotel Saratoga in the centre of Havana, Cuba at 10.50 am, local and ET, local news agencies report. The hotel is located at Paseo del Prado 603, in Old Havana (La Habana Vieja) near the Capitolio.
The blast, whose origin is not yet known, has left the building nearly completely destroyed.
According to local outlet CiberCuba witnesses accounts spoke of various injured individuals in the aftermath of the explosion, with people pulling pulled from the rubble by passersby before the emergency services could arrive.
Initial official reports, given by Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar, Party Secretary for Havana, were of four deaths and 13 people missing. The President’s Office later stated that eight people had died and 30 were in hospital being treated for their injuries.
Cause of the explosion in Havana hotel
As of Friday, 1pm ET, there is still no official version for what caused the explosion, with the President’s Office indicating that initial investigations suggested that the blast may have been caused by a gas leak.
Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez has visited the site, accompanied by Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz and Assembly President Esteban Lazo.
Injured taken to hospital, children evacuated
The injured were taken to hospitals close to the disaster, hospitals Hermanos Ameijeiras, Manuel Fajardo and Miguel Enríquez.
Children attending a school located right by the hotel were evacuated.
Meanwhile the emergency services continue to search through the ruins of the hotel to find people trapped by the blast.
The building dates from 1880, and was an originally a warehouse. It was converted into a hotel in 1933 and renovated and relaunched in 2005.