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Hotel Saratoga explosion

Hotel Saratoga explosion
Hotel Saratoga, Havana, Cuba.jpg
Hotel Saratoga in 2014
DateMay 6, 2022
VenueHotel Saratoga
LocationHavana, La Habana, Cuba
Coordinates23°08′01″N 82°21′29″W / 23.13361°N 82.35806°W / 23.13361; -82.35806Coordinates: 23°08′01″N 82°21′29″W / 23.13361°N 82.35806°W / 23.13361; -82.35806
CauseGas leak
Deaths43
Non-fatal injuries97
Missing3

On May 6, 2022, Hotel Saratoga, a five-story luxury neoclassical architecture style hotel in the Old Havana municipality of La Habana, Cuba suffered a suspected gas leak explosion that damaged large portions of the building as well as surrounding infrastructure. At least forty-three people died, while another ninety-seven were injured. At the time of the explosion, the hotel was undergoing renovations and there were no guests; however, there were fifty-one workers inside the hotel.

A gas tanker that was parked outside the hotel was believed to have ignited, causing the subsequent blast that destroyed significant portions of the building. Among the known dead are three children as well as a pregnant woman and a Spanish tourist.

Background

The historic five-star Hotel Saratoga is located at the intersection of Paseo del Prado and Dragones in the Cuban capital, in front of the Fuente de la India. The building that became the hotel was initially three-stories and built with a tobacco warehouse on the ground floor, apartments on the second, and hotels rooms on the third floor in 1880. The building was commissioned by wealthy Spanish merchant Eugenio Palacios in 1879 and was first located at Monte street. The central location of the building, and the beautiful views, made it a favorite among international visitors, and in 1933 the building was remodeled as a hotel and moved to its current location.

In the 1960s, following the Cuban Revolution, the hotel was nationalized by the new communist government and later became a low-class housing facility, before being closed due to its deplorable conditions. In 1996, the building was jointly transferred to the commercial arm of the City Historian's Office and an international confederation of investors. Most of the original building was then demolished, leaving only the façade on the two-street fronts. The building was reconstructed with five-floors as well as two basement levels and was reopened in 2005.

The hotel often hosted prominent international politicians and celebrities, but the country's vital tourism sector had been struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic's effect on both national and international travel, and most recently a wane in Russian tourists due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, who had accounted for nearly a third of tourists to Cuba the previous year. At the time the building was undergoing renovations and populated entirely by workers, fifty-one of whom were inside at the time. The hotel was set to reopen on May 11, 2022.

Explosion

External video
video icon USA Today clip of the damaged hotel on YouTube

The hotel was struck by a suspected gas leak explosion, likely originating from a gas tanker that was parked outside the building at the time of the blast. The explosion destroyed entire sections of the building and damaged nearby buildings such as El Capitolio, Teatro Marti, and the western Cuba headquarters of the Calvary Chapel Association. Parts of the building collapsed onto the street, crushing cars and people as well as sending debris flying through the air. As not all of the building was destroyed, remaining rooms could be seen visibly damaged from the street.

Casualties

A total of 43 people have been confirmed dead, with all being positively identified. All but one of the dead were Cuban citizens, with the one exception being a Spanish tourist. Among the dead were a pregnant woman, four teenagers, and a child. In total, 97 were injured, including many children. 23 of the 51 who were working at the hotel at the time were killed, and 3 people are still missing.

Aftermath

Emergency personnel from Cuba and organizations like the Red Cross worked quickly to excavate the site and find and locate any survivors, as well as recover bodies.

Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel visited the site on the same day as the explosion and visited survivors at Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital, where some blast victims were taken for treatment.

Messages of support came from such figures as Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard.

The First Secretary of the Communist Party for Havana, Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar, said that 38 homes had been affected by the explosion and that one neighboring building would need to be demolished, with 95 people having to be relocated.

This page was last updated at 2022-05-12 12:42 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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