WATCH | Eight dead, 30 hurt as huge blast wrecks Havana hotel


  • The explosion happened at the prestigious Saratoga Hotel.
  • So far, eight people have been confirmed dead and about 30 are hospitalised.
  • The Cuban government suspects that the blast was likely caused by a gas leak.

Eight people were killed and about 30 hurt in a powerful explosion Friday that partly destroyed a five-star hotel in central Havana, the Cuban government said, adding the blast was likely caused by a gas leak.

Rescuers combed through the rubble looking for survivors after the late-morning explosion sent a massive cloud of dust and smoke billowing from the prestigious Saratoga Hotel.

The blast tore off large parts of the façade, blew out windows, and destroyed cars parked outside the hotel, which is known for having hosted celebrities such as Madonna and Beyonce.

"So far, eight people have died and about 30 are hospitalized," the Cuban presidency tweeted.

The first four floors of the establishment, which was empty of guests while being renovated, were gutted.

The presidency said:

Initial findings indicate that the explosion was caused by a gas leak.

- Rescue underway -

Ambulances and fire trucks rushed to the scene and police cordoned off the area, dispersing people who swarmed to the site.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel, accompanied by Prime Minister Manuel Marrero and National Assembly President Esteban Lazo arrived at the scene as the rescue operation got underway.

According to the website of the Saratoga Hotel, it is an upmarket establishment with 96 rooms, two bars, two restaurants, a spa and gym.

Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, meanwhile, said President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador would not cancel a trip to Cuba planned for Sunday.

"Our solidarity to the victims and affected, as well as to the people of that dear brotherly people," the minister tweeted.

Never miss a story. Choose from our range of newsletters to get the news you want delivered straight to your inbox.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Should the red carpet portion of SONA be scrapped this year?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, it's inappropriate given the state of the country
93% - 2754 votes
No, it's part of the tradition
7% - 198 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.