Death toll in Havana hotel explosion rises to 40

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The death toll from the Saratoga hotel explosion in Havana, the Cuban capital, has risen to 40, the local health ministry reported on Tuesday (Dutch time). According to the ministry, 54 people were injured; 6 of them are still in critical condition.

Friday’s explosion is believed to have been caused by a gas leak. Rescuers are still looking for survivors under the rubble.

The rescue operation now focuses specifically on the basement of the building. The local fire chief told Cuban television on Monday that rescue efforts were in a difficult phase. This is due to the accumulation of rubble and the danger of collapse.

The historic hotel, one of the best known in the city, was closed due to the corona crisis, but should reopen in a few days. Only workers and hotel employees were in the building at the time of the explosion.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, 51 people were at the property at the time of the explosion. According to relatives of the victims, around 12 or 13 people are still trapped under the rubble.

The luxurious five-star hotel in Saratoga is located on the edge of Old Town, near the Capitolio, the old parliament building. Mick Jagger, Beyoncé and Madonna, among others, have stayed at the hotel in the past.

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