18 dead in apparent gas explosion at hotel in Cuba


(HAVANA) — At least 18 people are dead, including one minor, from an explosion at a hotel in Havana, Cuba, apparently caused by a gas leak, officials said.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel was at the scene of the Saratoga Hotel in Havana with other officials.

Search and rescue work continues to see if people are trapped, according to Luis Antonio Torres Iribar, first secretary of the Party in Havana.

The president’s office said Friday evening that 64 people hospitalized, including 14 minors.

“It wasn’t a bomb or an attack, it’s an unfortunate accident,” Diaz-Canel said, in Spanish, of the explosion.

The hotel, a popular tourist destination in the capital city, had been closed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to its Facebook page. It was currently working to get ready to reopen on May 10.

The five-story building is located in the Old Havana neighborhood and was remodeled as a hotel in the 1930s. It is located just across the street from Cuba’s National Capitol building.

Authorities said a nearby school was evacuated and no children were harmed.

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