The death toll from a powerful explosion due to a gas leak that destroyed much of the Saratoga Hotel in central Havana last Friday has risen to 40, the Cuban Ministry of Health announced on Monday.
As of yesterday afternoon, authorities also reported 54 injured, among whom 18 are still being treated, six in critical condition and another seven in serious condition.
The 40 dead include four children and teenagers, as well as a 27-year-old Spanish tourist.
Four more bodies were recovered, belonging to hotel employees, according to the Cuban public news agency ACN, which reported earlier yesterday that “12 to 13 people” were still missing.
Investigations continued into the night, focusing on the basements of the building, where access is complicated by the huge volume of damage. “It is a very dangerous stage because of the accumulation of debris and the risk of collapse,” Fire Chief Luis Carlos Guzman, head of the fire brigade, explained on public television.
The luxury hotel, an iconic neoclassical building in the center of the capital, remained closed for two years due to the pandemic and was being renovated in view of its reopening, which would take place today, before the disaster.
As the Ministry of Tourism announced on Saturday, 51 people were working inside the building when the explosion took place, which according to the authorities was due to a leak as the hotel was refueled by a tanker with liquefied natural gas. The first four floors were badly damaged.
A collection of donations for the victims is in progress.
The Saratoga, which had 96 rooms, two restaurants and a rooftop pool, an emblem of Old Havana, had welcomed many celebrities in recent years, from Mick Jagger to Beyoncé and Madonna.
The building was erected in 1880 to house shops. It was converted into a hotel in 1993. It was renovated and became a five star hotel in 2005.