Wednesday, April 17

A Spanish tourist, among the 27 killed by the explosion of a luxury hotel in Havana

“It has not been a bomb not a attemptit’s unfortunate accident“, He said president of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel after the explosion that took place on Friday in a listed hotel in the center of Havana. The accident caused the death of at least 27 people Y nine are still missingaccording to figures collected this Sunday. One of the fatalities is a spanish tourist, a young woman from nursery (Lugo), while her boyfriend, a resident of As Pontes (A Coruña) is seriously injured. According to official information, other 81 people were injuredsome of extreme gravity. 37 remain hospitalized.

We will get the experiences, we will evaluate the damage and we will recover,” Díaz-Canel told a perplexed population, when he was present at the scene of the disaster. The Cuban Presidency reported on Twitter that among the deceased there is a minor and a pregnant woman and that among the wounded 14 minors (three critical and two severe). Ten adults and three children have undergone surgery due to injuries sustained.

The Minister of Tourism, Juan Carlos Garcia GrandeHe assured that among the wounded there are no foreigners. The removal of rubble from the Saratoga hotel, emblematic of the capital’s historic center, may reveal new sad information in the coming hours. “Guapeen there, we have to save our people,” Díaz Canel asked the director of the Calixto Garcia Hospitalwhere most of the wounded were transferred.

According to the authorities, preliminary investigations point to a gas leakage. In turn, the Government reported that it will take measures to assist the families of the victims and the residents of the 17 residential buildings that have been affected by the explosion.

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a luxury hotel

The Saratoga was built at the end of the 19th century and has since left its mark on Havana. When Castroism bet on the tourist industry as a way out of the collapse of the Soviet partner, the hotel was remodeled to become a five-star establishment. It is managed by the state group Gaviota.

The Saratoga had closed its doors as a result of the pandemic. It is scheduled to reopen for next Monday. At the time of the tragedy, a group of workers was preparing the facilities. A meeting of directors of the tourism sector was also held.

explosion and collapse

The event occurred minutes before 11 am (local time) on Friday, when a liquefied gas tanker truck was serving a hotel deposit. The most likely hypothesis is that the explosion was due to a crack in the truck’s hose.

Its force was of such magnitude that a section of the seven-story building collapsed and the facade of the first three floors fell off, causing a rain of tons of rubble on a normally busy sidewalk. The tanker truck was partially buried. The explosion also caused a large column of smokewhich was visible in much of the capital.

They rushed to the scene firemen, police officers Y emergency teams, which transferred those affected to several nearby hospitals. A group of specialists then began to clear the area in search of possible victims trapped in the building, tasks that lasted until night. At the same time, the injured tanker truck, which still had highly flammable liquefied gas inside, was lifted with a crane and with great precautions, and it was deposited in a large truck for its transfer.

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In the next few days, a technical inspection of the building will have to be carried out to decide if it can be restored or if the structural damage warrants its demolition.

Historic center and tourism

The Saratoga was located in a neoclassical-style building built in 1880 and had been operating as a hotel since 1911. After undergoing a comprehensive reform, it was reopened in 2005. One of the most luxurious in the Cuban capital, among the Saratoga’s clients there have been highlighted the American artists Beyoncé and Madonna, the German dressmaker karl lagerfeld and the singer of Rolling Stonesthe British Mick jagger. The hotel was located in the heart of the historic area of ​​Old Havana, next to the Capitol, one of the main tourist attractions in the country.

The event occurs when the tourist sector of the island tries to reactivate itself after two years of forced hiatus due to the pandemic, which has exacerbated the country’s economic difficulties. Tourism is the second largest sector of the Cuban gross domestic product (GDP), with a contribution of 10% in 2019, and the second source of foreign exchange earnings.

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The Minister of Tourism pointed in this direction when he assured, when visiting the scene of the incident, that the workers who were in the Saratoga had “tremendous hope in the recovery of the sector.” Cuba has received more than 450,000 tourists between January and April and hopes to achieve 2.5 million foreign visitors for the year as a whole. The figure is significantly higher than the previous year, but still far from the pre-pandemic volume.

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international condolences

Governments of America and Europe, mainly, have sent a condolence message to Cuba and shown his solidarity with the Caribbean country after this event. “Tragic news reaches us from Cuba. A Spanish tourist has died and another Spanish citizen is seriously injured after the explosion of the Saratoga hotel,” said the president of the spanish government, Pedro Sanchez. “All our love for their families and those of all the victims and injured. Our support also to the cuban people“, added the leader.

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