Cuba: Death toll in Havana hotel explosion rises to 40 as more bodies are recovered from ruins | world news

The official death toll in a powerful explosion at an iconic hotel in Cuba’s capital Havana has risen to 40.

Search teams with dogs then continued to search the ruins of Hotel Saratoga an explosion on Friday apparently caused by a natural gas leak

dr. Julio Guerra, head of the health ministry’s hospital services, said more bodies had been recovered.

He added that 18 people were still in hospital with injuries from the blast.

The 96-room five-star hotel in Old Havana was preparing to reopen after being closed for two years before the blast collapsed its lower floors, leaving dozens trapped, killed or injured.

The dead include four children, a Spanish tourist and a pregnant woman, local authorities said.

Javier Martinez, a city official in Havana, told reporters Monday morning that the bodies of four hotel employees were discovered overnight.

Representatives of Grupo de Turismo Gaviota SA, owner of the hotel, said on Saturday that 51 hotel employees were at the hotel when the blast happened, as well as two people who were doing renovations.

Relatives of the missing have searched the morgue and hospitals for their loved ones.

Renovated by a British company after the fall of the Soviet Union, the hotel in the Old Havana neighborhood is popular with visiting government officials and celebrities, including Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Photo: AP

The luxury hotel, according to the website, contains bars, restaurants, a spa, gym and a rooftop pool.

Authorities said an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the explosion at the hotel, which is owned by Grupo de Turismo Gaviota SA, one of the companies run by the Cuban military.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Several nearby buildings were also damaged, including the historic Marti Theater and the Calvary Baptist Church, the denomination’s headquarters in western Cuba.

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