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The Cuban regime confirmed that the preliminary number of victims of the explosion registered this Friday at the Saratoga hotel in Havana is at of least eight dead, 13 people missing and about thirty hospitalized.
The figure was released by the Cuban regime through Twitter. It also reported that “preliminary investigations indicate that the explosion was caused by a gas leak.”
Dictator Miguel Díaz-Canel is at the scene of the incident along with Prime Minister Manuel Marrero and the leader of the National Assembly of People’s Power (unicameral Parliament), Esteban Lazo.
Children from a school near the area were evacuated safe and sound, according to Cuban Communist Party authorities.
The explosion occurred around 10:50 a.m. (14:50 GMT) and caused the collapse of part of the building’s facade, which was also affected by a fire that produced a large cloud of white smoke, visible from most of the city.
The ground, first and second floors of the six-story building were severely affected by the explosion, which brought down the facade, causing a shower of debris on the street. The mountain of debris on the sidewalk is taller than a person.
The upper floors were also damaged.
Emergency crews, firefighters and military personnel were on the scene. Many bystanders also gathered around the building.
The Saratoga is located in a neoclassical building built in 1880 and has been operating as a hotel since 1933. Its last restoration took place in 2005, according to official media.
With five stars, the hotel is considered one of the most luxurious in the city.
The establishment is located on Paseo del Prado, one of the main avenues of Old Havana, in the historic center of the Cuban capital.