Death Toll in Havana Luxury Hotel Explosion Climbs to 43

By Paul Riegler on 11 May 2022
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The rooftops of Old Havana

The death toll in the aftermath of the Hotel Saratoga explosion in Havana now stands at 43, five days after the elegant hotel, which had been slated to reopen this past Tuesday after being closed for two years due to the pandemic.

Initial reports of fatalities at the time of the explosion ranged from 26 to 32, depending on the source.

Emergency workers continue to comb through the ruins of the building looking for other victims.

Built in 1880, the Hotel Saratoga is a luxury hotel located on the Paseo del Prado in Old Havana, facing the Fuente de la India. The building housing the neoclassical style hotel first opened as a warehouse with a guest house on the second floor. It was remodeled as a hotel in 1933 and became a tenement after the country was taken over by the Revolutionary Guard in the 1960s.  The building was demolished at the very end of the 20th century although the ornate green-and-white stucco façade on the two street-fronts was preserved.  It reopened as a hotel in 2005.

The fate of the damaged building remains in question although nearby seriously damaged homes already have had to be demolished.

Roberto Enriquez, a spokesman for Gaviota, the state-owned tourism company that operates the Saratoga, said initial assessments believe that 80% of the hotel was damaged by the explosion, which rained tons of concrete chunks onto the busy streets below.

The hotel is located just one block from the country’s Capitol.

Fifty-one people were working to ready the hotel for its reopening, Enriques said, and 23 of them are among the confirmed dead including executives of the hotel, maids, cooks, and front-desk workers.  Three workers remain missing and are presumed to be buried under the rubble.

A gas leak is believed to have been the cause of the explosion, according to the Cuban Presidential Office.

“Everything indicates that the explosion was caused by an accident,” the office said in a tweet.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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