MEXICO CITY — A robust explosion rocked central Havana on Friday morning, in response to officers and information stories, killing a minimum of eight individuals and injuring dozens, destroying components of a luxurious lodge and damaging close by buildings simply yards from the Cuban capitol.
No less than 13 individuals had been reported lacking, in accordance authorities officers, and movies and images shared on social media confirmed ambulances dashing to the scene and far of the facade of the Saratoga Lodge destroyed, with rubble piled on the road and smoke billowing into the sky.
“There are lots of people injured right here,” mentioned Fb person Ángel Cuza in a video recorded on the scene exhibiting the mangled stays of the lodge and a crowd of onlookers. He mentioned individuals had been trapped below the rubble.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel arrived on the scene shortly after the explosion, together with Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz. The workplace of the Cuban presidency mentioned on Twitter that “preliminary investigations point out that the explosion was attributable to a fuel leak.”
“Search and rescue work continues on the lodge, the place individuals should be trapped,” the president’s workplace mentioned. An iconic constructing courting to the nineteenth century, the Saratoga Lodge had reopened in 2005 as a luxurious, five-star institution.
Among the many buildings broken was the close by Concepción Arenal College. A trainer from college who didn’t need to give her title mentioned three college students had been wounded. She mentioned home windows had been blown out, with shards of glass flying a substantial distance.
State media reported that youngsters had been evacuated to the Capitol within the wake of the blast.
The Cuban Communist Celebration newspaper, Granma, mentioned on Twitter that the explosion occurred “whereas liquefied fuel was presumably being moved from a truck.”
The explosion comes simply as Cuba’s all-important tourism sector was starting to bounce again after being exhausting hit through the coronavirus pandemic. The island nation had been shut off to guests for months, plunging Cuba into considered one of it worst financial crises in historical past.
The disappearance of vacationers disadvantaged Cuba of significant international forex that it’s closely depending on, exacerbating the monetary challenges attributable to the decades-long U.S. embargo.
The financial disaster set off one of many largest protest actions in Cuban historical past, with hundreds of individuals taking to the streets in cities throughout the nation. A subsequent authorities crackdown has led to the jailing of dozens of individuals for crimes, together with sedition.
The explosion occurred whereas Cuba was internet hosting a world tourism truthful within the close by resort city of Varadero.