A strong explosion at the Saratoga Hotel in Havana shook the Cuban capital during the morning hours -around 11:00 a.m. – with serious material damages and several injured and dead people.
Authorities have confirmed that the explosion was caused by a leak in a hose during the transfer of liquefied gas from a truck into the building. Disruptions are expected in the surrounding area as search and rescue operations continue at the site.
Several people reported on social networks that they had felt a strong explosion that shook several buildings near the Capitol and was felt in several municipalities of Havana.
According to information provided by health authorities and the government, so far there are 30 people injured, 8 dead and 13 missing. Several of the injured are evaluated as seriously injured.
The injured were taken to the Calixto García, Hermanos Ameijeiras, Manuel Fajardo and Juan Manuel Márquez pediatric hospitals.
Three adults and two children are being treated at the Miguel Enriquez Hospital. To date, none of them have required surgery.
Authorities made a call to donate blood for the people who have been injured during the incident. Due to the quick response of the Cubans, the influx to the blood banks has been higher than the response capacity, so the Provincial Blood Bank and the Calixto Garcia Hospital ask not to go there for the moment, but to remain attentive.
The police are blocking the way to the site because rescue and salvage actions continue for those who are still under the rubble.
According to the images shared, it can be seen that the Hotel is totally destroyed as well as collapses in neighboring houses.
It is also possible to see people rescuing those left under the rubble and authorities from the Police, Fire Department and the Integrated Medical Emergency System (SIUM).
According to statements made by Roberto Enrique Calzadilla, delegate of the Gaviota business group in the western region, the preliminary causes so far was an accident during the refueling of gas to the hotel, with a pipe.
He added that there were at least eight managers and several maintenance workers at the hotel who were preparing the conditions for a reopening in the next few days.