Cuba: Hotel Saratoga blast death toll increases to 42

The death toll of Havana’s Hotel Saratoga blast has reached 42 as two more bodies were pulled from the rubble on Tuesday.

Cuba’s health ministry said that another 54 people were injured. 17 of them are receiving treatment in the hospital.

The latest confirmed deaths were a 77-year-old woman and a popular local councilor.

Juan Carlos Diaz, 55, was held in high regard by local residents for his efforts to improve their lives.

“We felt everyone’s pain but especially his because he worked as a delegate in the moments that were necessary,” Havana resident Lazara Phinney told AFP.

Saratoga hotel in Old Havana was destroyed in a blast on Friday (May 6). The blast apparently took place due to a gas leak.

The five-star hotel was being renovated at the time and had no guests. It had been closed for two years, initially due to the coronavirus pandemic that decimated Cuba’s vital tourism industry.

But it had been due to reopen on Tuesday.

Roberto Enrique Calzadilla, a representative of the state Gaviota company that owned the hotel, said there were 51 workers on the site at the time of the explosion.

Of them, 23 died, three survivors are receiving hospital treatment, 22 are safe and three more are missing.

(With inputs from agencies)

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