At least 32 people were killed in a massive explosion that destroyed a hotel in Havana, Cuba


The state company Gaviota, which runs the hotel, said 11 workers died in the blast and 13 are still missing. Among those infected was a Cuban-American woman, said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Tourism, Delilah Alba Gonzalez.

It is believed that the cause of the explosion was a gas leak, according to the Cuban presidential office, which said that more details would follow.

“Everything indicates that the explosion was caused by an accident,” the Cuban presidential office said in a tweet.

She added that, according to preliminary data, among the dead were a child and a pregnant woman.

The presidency also said that 64 people were taken to hospital with injuries, including 14 minors.

Cuban state television said there were potential survivors trapped in the basement of the destroyed hotel.

Witnesses described a “huge explosion” that appeared to destroy buses and cars outside the hotel in the city center.

Pictures from the scene showed the smashed facade of at least three floors of the ornate green and white stucco building. Plumes of dust and smoke were seen rising around the rubble on the ground.

A CNN team on the ground saw a bloodied woman being carried away to the scene of the explosion. Firefighters were using their bare hands to move pieces of granite and broken stone in order to pull people out of the rubble. Pieces of metal awnings, balconies and large pieces of stone were scattered about 300 feet from the hotel.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel visited the site of the blast on Friday and the Hermanos Amigiras hospital, where a number of victims were sent, according to photos posted by the presidential office on Twitter.

He said the explosion was “neither a bomb nor an attack, it’s an unfortunate accident” after returning to the site of the blast.

He added that hospitals are continuing to treat all the wounded and that rescue operations are still underway.

And the Mexican Foreign Minister tweeted his solidarity with the victims of the explosion. “Our solidarity with the victims and those affected, as well as the people of that sister nation,” Marcelo Ebrard said in a tweet.

The hotel was built at the end of the 19th century, and by the 1930s, it was one of the most important hotels in the city. It has 96 rooms since it reopened in 2005 after renovation, According to her website. Figures like writer Rafael Alberti passed through its doors.
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