MEXICO CITY — A robust explosion rocked central Havana on Friday morning, in accordance with officers and information reviews, killing at the very least 4 individuals, destroying elements of a luxurious resort and damaging close by buildings simply yards from the Cuban capitol.
The general variety of casualties was not instantly clear, however movies and photographs shared on social media confirmed ambulances dashing to the scene and far of the facade of the Saratoga Hotel destroyed, with rubble piled on the road and smoke billowing into the sky.
“There are a lot of people injured here,” mentioned Facebook consumer Ángel Cuza in a video recorded on the scene exhibiting the mangled stays of the resort and a crowd of onlookers. He mentioned individuals have been trapped underneath 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 indicate that the explosion was caused by a gas leak.”
“So far, the death of four people has been confirmed,” the president’s workplace mentioned. “Search and rescue work continues at the hotel, where people may still be trapped.” At least 13 individuals have been lacking, the president’s workplace mentioned.
Among the buildings broken, in accordance with native media reviews, was a close-by faculty, with some youngsters reportedly injured by the blast. State media reported that youngsters have been evacuated to the Capitol in the wake of the blast.
The Cuban Communist Party newspaper, Granma, mentioned on Twitter that the explosion occurred “while liquefied gas 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 laborious hit through the coronavirus pandemic. The island nation had been shut off to guests for months, plunging Cuba into certainly one of its worst financial crises in historical past.
The disappearance of vacationers disadvantaged Cuba of important overseas foreign money that it’s closely depending on, exacerbating the monetary challenges brought on by the decades-long U.S. embargo.
The financial disaster set off one of many largest protest actions in Cuban historical past, with 1000’s 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 global tourism honest in the close by resort city of Varadero.