Rescuers comb through Havana hotel blast rubble, death toll climbs to 27 - GulfToday

Rescuers comb through Havana hotel blast rubble, death toll climbs to 27


A sheet-covered body lies outside the five-star Hotel Saratoga after a deadly explosion in Havana. AP

Rescuers combed through what remained of a luxury Havana hotel on Saturday, as the death toll after a powerful blast due to a suspected gas leak climbed to 27, authorities said.

No survivors were found in the upper floors of the prestigious Saratoga Hotel, and rescuers said they were now concentrating their efforts on the jumbled debris filling the two-level basement of the neoclassical building.


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Authorities reported Saturday that 37 people had been hospitalized, down from an earlier number of 46.

There was meanwhile some confusion after a Red Cross official gave a death toll of 32, but the higher number was later reported to be "an error."

Firefighters remove a tanker from the site of a deadly explosion in Havana, Cuba, on Friday. AP

The hotel had been closed for business during renovation work, and many victims of Friday's explosion were either construction workers or hotel employees preparing for its reopening.

But a 29-year-old Spanish tourist, who had been walking nearby, died in the blast.

So far, 11 hotel employees have been identified among the dead, said Roberto Enriquez Calzadilla, a spokesman for the state-run tourism group Gaviota, which operates the hotel.

He said the explosion happened while a gas tank was being refilled by a tanker truck.

Agence France-Presse



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