The 96-room hotel is located in the historic centre of Old Havana and was remodelled by a British company after the fall of the Soviet Union. It was considered the place to go for visiting government officials and celebrities.
At least 22 people have died, including a pregnant woman and a child, after a powerful explosion at a five-star hotel in the downtown area of Cuba’s capital Havana.
Photos from the deadly explosion at the historic Hotel Saratoga show severe damage to the multi-storey building, with some of the walls blown away exposing interior rooms and clouds of dust billowing into the sky.
Speaking from the scene on Cuban television, the country’s president Miguel Diaz-Canel said the blast appeared to have been caused by a gas leak.
It was not a bomb or an attack, “It’s just a very unfortunate accident”, he told reporters.
Mr Diaz-Canel said 50 adults and 14 children were hospitalised after the blast, and that families in buildings near the hotel affected by the explosion had been transferred to safer locations.
Cuba‘s national health minister, Jose Angel Portal, told The Associated Press that dozens of people were injured and that number could rise as the search continues for people who may be trapped in the rubble of the 19th century structure.
The 96-room hotel is located in the historic centre of Old Havana and was remodelled by a British company after the fall of the Soviet Union and was popular among visiting government officials and celebrities.
Havana governor, Reinaldo Garcia Zapata, said the hotel was in the process of renovations and no tourists were staying there, the Communist Party newspaper Granma reported.
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. The Embassy remains available to assist any British nationals impacted by the explosion.”