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Cuba completes rescue efforts after Saratoga hotel bombing kills 46

Latest NewsCuba completes rescue efforts after Saratoga hotel bombing kills 46

After completing rescue work on Thursday, the Cuban government declared national mourning on the island this Friday and Saturday for the victims of the tragic bombing of the Saratoga Hotel in Havana. The balance after a week of the crash is horrendous: 46 dead, including four minors, a pregnant woman and a Spanish tourist, in addition to 89 injured, of whom 13 are still in hospital and five are in critical condition. critical (including two children), so the death toll could rise even more in the coming days. Both the hotel complex and several buildings adjacent to it are practically destroyed, and now the question of the expediency of their restoration or the need for their demolition is being decided. The Government called this Friday a picket in the Parc de la Fraternidad, opposite Saratoga, in memory of the victims.

The Saratoga, a 96-room luxury hotel across from the National Capitol in the vibrant metropolitan area, was closed for two years due to the pandemic and was due to reopen on May 10. The accident happened while a tanker truck was delivering liquefied gas to the facility and the leak caused the storage tanks to explode. One of the survivors who worked in the kitchen said that during supply operations, he noticed a crack in one of the hoses through which the gas escaped, and a few moments later there was an explosion that blew up the fuel tanks of the building and brought down several houses. floors of a six-story building, as a result of which dozens of people, cars and buses were buried under a mountain of rubble, which in some places reached the height of almost one floor of the building.

At the time of the accident, 51 employees were working at the hotel, of which at least 24 people died in the explosion. The search for the bodies of 13 workers buried on the first floor and in the basement of the institution was extremely difficult due to the instability of the building. Firefighters spent nearly six days clearing debris before they could find the bodies of the missing, authorities said.

Built in the late 19th century and refurbished in 2005, the hotel was one of the most luxurious in Havana and has hosted music stars such as Mick Jagger, Beyoncé and Madonna in the past. The consequences of the explosion would have been much stronger if it had happened a week later, when the facility was already open and with tourists. The tragedy occurred on May 6 at about 11 a.m. local time, when hundreds of people were walking around Saratoga, in the vicinity of which there are numerous shops and a school that was damaged, but in which there was not a single accident with the victims. . From the distribution of the first images, it became clear that the damage, human and material, would be enormous. The explosion destroyed part of the façade and collapsed part of the facility, severely affecting two adjacent residences and causing varying degrees of damage to twenty others.

The accident killed Spanish tourist Cristina López-Seron Ugarte, 29, a native of Viveiro (Lugo), whose remains have already been repatriated to Galicia. Her boyfriend, Cesar Roman Santalla, from Coruña, a year older, is still in critical condition, but after surgery in a hospital in the Cuban capital, he is stable, conscious and on the mend, consular sources said, who said his Oni’s relatives are with him in Havana.

The government initially assessed the possibility that it was an attack, but Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel himself soon dismissed it. “It was not a bomb or an attack, it was an accident,” the president confirmed, noting that families affected by the damage caused by the explosion were moved to “safe places while recovery work is being carried out.” “We are focused on caring for the people, the relatives of the victims, as well as those in the hospital. The work of medical institutions and emergency response teams was immediate,” Diaz-Canel said, noting that the country was “shocked.”

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Yesterday, relatives of those killed in Saratoga attended a mass in their honor at the Havana Cathedral. On Wednesday, another gas leak at a private home in Havana set off an explosion that injured three, causing more uncertainty. The authorities reassured the population and asked anyone who smells gas in their homes to report it immediately. The mayor of Old Havana, Alexis Acosta, said that after the rescue work is completed, they are moving to the stage of determining the status of damaged adjacent buildings, including the Marti Theater, in order to carry out restoration tasks where possible.

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