Cuba explosion: Death toll from Saratoga Hotel explosion reaches 31 as first responders search for survivors

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Rescuers working at the scene of the Hotel Saratoga explosion in Havana are searching the rubble Monday for signs of survivors, as Cuban authorities now say 31 have died in the blast, including four children.

The Hotel Saratoga, a 96-room five-star hotel in Old Havana, was preparing to reopen after two years closed when an apparent gas leak ignited on Friday and parts of its exterior walls were blown into the streets just a block from the Capitol. from the country. building.

“Congratulations to the members of the Red Cross and all our thanks for the sensitive and necessary work they do,” Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel said in a tweet on Monday morning. “Thank you for the delivery, for the vigilance, in these hard days that we are living after the explosion of the Saratoga Hotel.”

Members of the Red Cross gather near the ruins at the site of a deadly explosion that destroyed the five-star Hotel Saratoga in Old Havana, Cuba, on Sunday, May 8.
(AP/Ismael Francisco)

THE VIDEO SHOWS THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE SARATOGA BLAST HOTEL

Starting Sunday night, the Cuban government said 31 people were confirmed dead after the explosion and 24 remain hospitalized.

The Cuban Ministry of Health said that among the dead were four minors, a pregnant woman and a Spanish tourist, whose companion was seriously injured.

Nineteen families had reported missing persons as of Saturday night, but authorities did not say Sunday if the number had changed.

A rescuer and his search dog are transported on the shovel of an excavator Sunday, May 8, to search for survivors at the Hotel Saratoga site in Old Havana.

A rescuer and his search dog are transported on the shovel of an excavator Sunday, May 8, to search for survivors at the Hotel Saratoga site in Old Havana.

Search teams with dogs were reportedly combing the debris for signs of life.

“Preliminary investigations indicate that the explosion was caused by a gas leak,” Cuba’s government said in a tweet on Friday.

A large crane was seen pulling a charred gas tanker out of the rubble on Saturday, according to the Associated Press.

Burials for the victims had begun, city officials said, while some people were still waiting for news of missing friends and relatives.

At least 31 people have been confirmed dead in the blast.

At least 31 people have been confirmed dead in the blast.
(/Ramon Espinosa)

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Several nearby structures were also damaged in the blast, including the historic Martí Theater and the Calvary Baptist Church, the denomination’s headquarters in western Cuba.

The church said on its Facebook page that the building suffered “significant structural damage, with several walls and columns collapsing or cracking (and) the roof partially collapsing,” although no church workers were injured.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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