At least 21 adults and one minor died in the massive explosion at the Hotel Saratoga in downtown Havana

At least 21 adults and one minor have died after the massive explosion that caused serious damage this Friday at the emblematic Hotel Saratoga in Havana, in the center of the Cuban capital, the Cuban Presidency confirmed via the socialTwitter network.

Likewise, the latest updated tally, presented at a meeting at the Palace of the Revolution chaired by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel and several ministers of his executive branch, sees 50 adults and 14 minors hospitalized.

At least 21 adults and one minor died in the massive explosion at the Hotel Saratoga in downtown Havana
At least 21 adults and one minor died in the massive explosion at the Hotel Saratoga in downtown Havana

Díaz-Canel thanked several friendly countries for their solidarity in the face of the incident that killed 22 people, including a pregnant woman and a child. The Cuban Presidency has stressed that families affected by the damage caused by the blast have been taken to “safe places while rescue operations are being carried out”.

“We focus on caring for people, the loved ones of the deceased and also those who are hospitalized.

The work of the health facilities and rescue and rescue teams was immediate,” said the Cuban President.

The incident took place around 10:50 a.m. (local time) and appeared to have happened during the loading of liquid gas from a truck, according to the Cuban authorities, who ruled out an attack as reported by Cubadebate.

The children of the school next to the hotel complex with more than 390 students were evacuated after the explosion and taken to their families. According to the Cuban media, at least five of the students were injured.

The blast damaged at least 23 buildings in the area, including 17 apartment blocks, two of which suffered severe structural damage. Of the minors injured, three are in critical condition and two are in serious condition, while at least 18 adults are in serious or critical condition.

The Cuban Presidency originally reported on its Twitter account that thirteen people were missing and that preliminary investigations indicated the explosion was caused by a gas leak.

The President of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, went to the scene of the event, accompanied by Prime Minister Manuel Marrero and the President of the National Assembly of Cuba, Esteban Lazo, who confirmed that “in fact it was not a bomb or an attack”, but an “unfortunate accident”.

The Cuban Presidency has shared several photos on social media, showing the President at the scene of the events and at health centers in the region, where he has visited some of the wounded.

The hotel is located in Old Havana, near the Capitol. According to the Granma newspaper, the rescue and rescue squad of the fire brigade and officials from the Ministry of the Interior traveled to the area. The blast also caused damage to a nearby home and school.

Despite being a building primarily for tourist purposes, Cuban Minister of Tourism Juan Carlos García Granda has confirmed that while workers in the sector are likely to be injured, “no foreigners were injured”.

The five-star Hotel Saratoga is nearly a hundred years old, although its current phase began in December 2005 when it reopened its doors. It has 96 rooms in total as stated on its website.

INTERNATIONAL REACTIONS

As part of the international reaction, the Spanish Embassy in Havana took to its profile on the social network Twitter to express its condolences to the families of the victims, while saying that “there are no records of victims of Spanish nationality”.

For his part, the President of Bolivia, Luis Arce, used the same means to express his solidarity with the Cuban people and the Cuban authorities. “We extend our condolences and all our support to the families of the victims. Strengthen Cuba,” he said.

Similarly, the Mexican embassy in Cuba has expressed its solidarity with Havana while saying that it has put in place “the appropriate protection protocols”, although it is true that it has explained in detail that there are no reports of Mexican citizens, those affected by the event.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Félix Plasencia has published a tweet expressing his “deep regret” at the incident and the “solidarity of Bolivarian Venezuela” with those affected.

Likewise, the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, expressed his “solidarity with the Cuban people and President Díaz-Canel for the unfortunate accident at the Hotel Saratoga in Havana” on his official Twitter profile.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Marcelo Ebrard, has deplored the explosion and expressed his solidarity with the victims and the Cuban people, while the President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, was dismayed by the tragedy, according to the official newspaper ‘Granma’.

“Our solidarity with the Cuban people in the wake of the explosion that occurred at the Hotel Saratoga this morning. From the UN in Cuba, heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased,” the agency said on its in-country Twitter account.

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