At least 22 people were killed and dozens more injured during a powerful gas explosion that rocked a landmark hotel in Havana, Cuba, according to multiple reports.
Cuban authorities said 21 adults and a child are confirmed dead and that 50 adults and 14 minors were injured and being treated at local hospitals after Friday’s explosion caused by a gas leak at the Hotel Saratoga, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“This wasn’t a bomb or an attack, it was a lamentable accident,” said Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who rushed to the scene along with other high-ranking Cuban officials. “Our most heartfelt condolences…to the families and those close to the victims.”
The five-story hotel was undergoing repairs and no tourists were inside, the state-run newspaper Granma reported. It had been scheduled to reopen on May 10.
The blast nevertheless set off a brief wave of panic through historic downtown Havana neighborhood, which has gradually begun reopening to tourists after the pandemic devastated Cuba’s travel sector.
The explosion also rattled a nearby school with more than 300 students in attendance, health authorities told Reuters.
The hotel has been frequented by celebrities such as Beyoncé and Jay-Z — who stayed there when they visited Cuba in 2013 — and political figures including high-ranking US government delegations.
With Post wires