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Death toll inside Havana innmotel blast reaches 18, including child

Death toll inside Havana innmotel blast reaches 18, including child

HAVANA (AP) — A strong detonation apparently caused by a gasoline leak killed at least 18 people, including a expecting a infant woman with every one other accompanied by a child, with every one other accompanied by injured dozens Friday when it blew away outer walls from a luxury innmotel inside the heart of Cuba's capital.

No tourists were staying at Havana's 96-room Hotel Saratoga since it was undergoing renovations, Havana Gov. Reinaldo García Zapata told the Communist Party paper casual set in print Granma.

"It's not a bomb or an attack. It is a tragic accident," President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who visited the site, said inside a tweet.

Díaz-Canel told reporters that 50 adults with every one other accompanied by 14 children were hospitalized following the blast.

Cuban condition TV reported that the blast was caused by a truck that had been supplying natural gasoline to the hotel, nevertheless did not provide details on how the gasoline ignited.

The blast sent smoulder billowing into the air around the innmotel accompanied by people on the road staring inside awe, one saying "Oh my God," with every one other accompanied by cars honking their horns while they sped away from the scene, video showed. It happened while Cuba is struggling to revive its answer tourism sector that was devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Cuba's national health minister, José Ángel Portal, told The Associated Press the number of injured could rise while the search continues for people who may exist trapped inside the rubble of the 19th century building inside the Old Havana neighbourhood of the city.

"We are still looking for a large category of people who may exist under the rubble," Lt. Col. Noel Silva of the Fire Department said.

An basic educational organization following to the innmotel was evacuated. It was not straight away understandable if the injured children were students.

Police cordoned off the area while firefighters with every one other accompanied by rescue workers toiled inside the wreckage of the emblematic innmotel concerning 110 yards (100 meters) from Cuba's Capitol building.

The innmotel was earliest renovated inside 2005 while small portion of the Cuban government's revival of Old Havana with every one other accompanied by is owned by the Cuban military's tourism work arm, Grupo de Turismo Gaviota SA. The firm said it was investigating the source of the blast with every one other accompanied by did not straight away respond to an email seeking additional details concerning the innmotel with every one other accompanied by the renovation it was undergoing.

The Hotel Saratoga has been used regularly by visiting VIPs with every one other accompanied by political figures, including high-ranking U.S. management delegations. Beyoncé with every one other accompanied by Jay-Z stayed there throughout a 2013 pay someone a call to Cuba.

Photographer Michel Figueroa said he was walking past the innmotel when "the detonation threw me to the ground, with every one other accompanied by my head still hurts.... Everything was extremely fast."

Worried relatives of people who had been employed at the innmotel showed up at a medical organization inside the afternoon to look for them. Among them was Beatriz Céspedes Cobas, who was tearfully searching for her sister.

"She had to labour today. She is a housekeeper," she said. "I labour set of two blocks away. I felt the noise, with every one other accompanied by at first, I didn't flat associate" the detonation accompanied by the hotel.

Yazira de la Caridad said the detonation shook her place of residence a chunk from the hotel: "The whole building moved. I idea it was an earthquake."

Besides the pandemic's impact on Cuba's tourism sector, the country was by that hour dated struggling accompanied by the sanctions imposed by the former U.S. President Donald Trump that have been kept inside place the Biden administration. The sanctions restricted visits by U.S. tourists to the islands with every one other accompanied by restricted remittances from Cubans inside the U.S. to their families inside Cuba.

Tourism had started to revive somewhat early this year, nevertheless the war inside Ukraine crimped a reverberation of Russian visitors, who accounted for almost a third of the tourists arriving inside Cuba last year.

The detonation happened while Cuba's management hosted the final day of a tourism convention inside the iconic beach town of Varadero aimed at sketch investors.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is scheduled to come inside Havana for a pay someone a call late Saturday with every one other accompanied by Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said the pay someone a call would still lay clasp of place.

Mayiee Pérez said she rushed to the innmotel following receiving a call from her husband, Daniel Serra, who works at a overseas exchange store inside the hotel.

She said he told her: "I am fine, I am fine. They got us out." But she was unable to stretch not here him following that.

Death toll inside Havana innmotel blast reaches 18, including child

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