Death toll rises to 25 in Havana hotel explosion

A Spanish woman was among those killed in the accident, the foreign ministry has confirmed
hotel saratoga la habana

PHOTO/REUTERS  -   Members of the emergency services walk near the Saratoga Hotel after an explosion in the building.

Authorities in Havana on Saturday raised the death toll to 25 in a powerful explosion that occurred the day before at a luxury hotel in the centre of the Cuban capital. Among the dead is a Spanish citizen who was visiting the country, as well as another tourist who was injured. 

In an interview on Cuban Television (TVC), the Havana government coordinator, Orestes Llanes Mestre, said that during the night three more bodies had been recovered in addition to the 22 found so far.

Llanes offered no new information on the injured, who at last count, the day before, numbered 64 people, with 50 adults (18 serious and critical) and 14 minors (three critical and two serious).

hotel saratoga la habana
AFP/ADALBERTO ROQUE A view of the Saratoga Hotel after a powerful explosion in Havana, 6 May 2022.

Throughout the night, debris removal and rescue work has continued at the site of the disaster, amidst heavy security measures, due to the risk of further landslides.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who visited the site shortly after the incident, stressed that it was an "unfortunate accident" and ruled out the possibility of a "bomb" or an "attack".

The incident occurred minutes before 11 a.m., when a liquefied gas tanker was serving a tank at the hotel. The most likely theory is that the explosion was caused by a leak.

The explosion caused a section of the seven-storey building to collapse and the façade of the first three floors to detach, causing a shower of debris to fall onto the pavement. The tanker was partially buried.

hotel saratoga la habana
AFP/ADALBERTO ROQUE More than 50 people were injured after a suspected gas leak, according to official count

The explosion caused a large plume of white smoke, which was visible over much of the capital.

Firefighters, police officers and emergency crews rushed to the scene and took those affected to several hospitals. A nearby school was evacuated.

A team of specialists then began to deconstruct the area in search of possible victims trapped in the building, a task that continued into the night.

At the same time, the damaged tanker, which still had highly flammable liquefied gas inside, was lifted by crane and placed on a large lorry for transport.

A technical inspection of the building will have to be carried out in the next few days to decide whether it can be restored or whether the structural damage makes it advisable to demolish it.

hotel saratoga la habana
AFP/ADALBERTO ROQUE A view of a destroyed vehicle after an explosion at the Saratoga Hotel in Havana, 6 May 2022.

The Minister of Construction, René Mesa Villafaña, indicated that it seems that the building "is recoverable", but that a technical analysis is needed.

The Saratoga is located in a neoclassical building built in 1880, which has been used as a hotel since 1911. It was last restored in 2005, according to official media.

With five stars, the hotel is considered one of the most luxurious in the city. The establishment is located on the Paseo del Prado, one of the main avenues of Old Havana, in the historic centre of the Cuban capital.