A 77-year-old man and a 55-year-old man were pulled dead from the rubble of the Saratoga Hotel in Havana on Tuesday, bringing to 42 the number of victims of the explosion due to a gas leak.
According to the Cuban Ministry of Health, 54 people were injured in the blast, 17 of whom are still being treated.
Saratoga, an iconic hotel in Old Havana, has been closed for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and was about to reopen to the public today after renovations.
The first four floors of the five-star hotel were almost completely destroyed by the powerful explosion that occurred while the facility was being refueled by a tanker with liquefied natural gas.
Of the 51 employees inside the building at the time of the blast, 23 died, three remained in hospital and 22 were discharged, said Roberto Enrique Calcadilla, a spokesman for the Gaviota tourism company, who was arrested. The fate of three employees is still being ignored. They are two waitresses and a cook, according to him.
The Saratoga, which has 96 rooms, two restaurants and a rooftop pool, has hosted many celebrities in recent years, from Mick Jagger to Beyoncé and Madonna.
Built in 1880 to house shops, the building was converted into a hotel in 1993. Renovated to become a five star hotel in 2005.
Tourism, considered Cuba’s “heavy industry”, is struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.