Explosion Hit Cuba Hotel; Several Killed

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent

HAVANA (Worthy News) – A massive explosion killed eight people and destroyed much of a five-star hotel in Havana that was long known for hosting government leaders and celebrities.

No tourists stayed at the 96-room Hotel Saratoga in the of ’s capital as it was undergoing renovations, said Havana Governor Reinaldo García Zapata in published remarks.

The early morning blast that devastated the 19th-century structure in Old Havana apparently was due to a gas leak, said President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who went to the site.

Search and rescue efforts were underway amid fears that people remained trapped beneath the rubble.

The ruling Communist Party newspaper Granma cited officials saying that 13 people remained missing and about 30 were known injured.

A school next door was evacuated, and local said none of the children had been hurt.

BODY SEEN

Witnesses saw at least one body under a white blanket.

The blast had been tearing a gash several floors high into the side of the building, and several hotel walls were blown away.

State TV said the explosion was “not a attack,” adding that the hotel was closed and only workers were inside at the time of the blast.

A British company reportedly remodeled the neoclassical-style hotel after the fall of the Soviet Union. It was for years seen as the place to stay for visiting government officials and celebrities.

Recently, it lost some of its shine due to competition from new hotels in Havana amid some reforms on the Communist-run island.

The explosion happened just four days before it was to reopen after a lengthy closure due to the pandemic, officials said.

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