At Least 22 Dead And Dozens Injured After Huge Explosion Rocks Five-Star Hotel In Cuba

A pregnant woman and a child are among the 22 people who have so far been confirmed dead after a powerful explosion happened at a five-star hotel in Havana, Cuba's capital.

Hotel Saratoga after the explosion
© Associated Press - Hotel Saratoga after the explosion

Horrifying photos show the aftermath of the deadly explosion that happened at the historic Hotel Saratoga, showing clouds of dust billowing into the air with many of the exterior walls completely blown away.

Cuban hotel explosion
© Associated Press

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel gave a statement from the scene on Cuban television saying that the explosion appeared to have been caused by a gas leak.

He told reporters that it was not an attack or a bomb, "It's just a very unfortunate accident."

50 adults and 14 children were hospitalised after the explosion, and families in the surrounding buildings near the hotel had been transferred to safer locations, confirmed Mr Diaz-Canel.

The Cuban government has not yet made public the details of the victims.

Cuban explosion at Hotel
© Associated Press

Jose Angel Portal, Cuba's national health minister, told The Associated Press that dozens of people were injured and that number would likely rise as the search continues for people who could still be trapped in the rubble of the hotel.

The impressive hotel was situated in the historic centre of Old Havana. The property had been remodelled by a British company after the fall of the Soviet Union and was popular among government officials and celebrities visiting the country.

The governor of Havana, Reinaldo Garcia Zapata, said that the hotel was currently undergoing renovation work and no tourists were staying there.

Explosion in Havana
© Associated Press

A Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office spokesperson said: "We are aware of an explosion in Havana and are in contact with the Cuban authorities to establish further details. Speaking to reporters, local resident Yazira de la Caridad said that the explosion shook her home a block away from the hotel.

She said, "The whole building moved. I thought it was an earthquake, I've still got my heart in my hand."

Authorities cordoned off the whole area surrounding the hotel as ambulance crews and firefighters worked inside and a school next door was quickly evacuated.

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