Hotel Saratoga explosion

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Hotel Saratoga explosion
Hotel Saratoga, Havana, Cuba.jpg
Hotel Saratoga in 2014
DateMay 6, 2022
VenueHotel Saratoga
LocationHavana, La Habana, Cuba
Coordinates23°08′01″N 82°21′29″W / 23.13361°N 82.35806°W / 23.13361; -82.35806Coordinates: 23°08′01″N 82°21′29″W / 23.13361°N 82.35806°W / 23.13361; -82.35806
CauseGas leak[1]
Deaths46
Non-fatal injuries53

On May 6, 2022, Hotel Saratoga, a five-story luxury hotel in the Old Havana municipality of La Habana, Cuba, suffered a suspected gas explosion that damaged large portions of the building as well as surrounding infrastructure.[2][3] 46 people died and 53 were injured.[4] The hotel was undergoing renovations and there were no guests; however, there were fifty-one workers inside.[5]

Background[edit]

The historic five-star Hotel Saratoga is located at the intersection of Paseo del Prado and Dragones in the Cuban capital, in front of the Fuente de la India. The building that became the hotel was initially three-stories and built with a tobacco warehouse on the ground floor, apartments on the second, and hotel rooms on the third floor in 1880. The building was commissioned by wealthy Spanish merchant Eugenio Palacios in 1879 and was first located at Monte Street. The central location of the building made it a favorite among international visitors, and in 1933 the building was remodeled as a hotel and moved to its current location.

In the 1960s, following the Cuban Revolution, the hotel was nationalized by the new communist government and later became a low-class housing facility, before being closed due to its deplorable conditions. In 1996, the building was transferred to a newly created joint venture company Hotel Saratoga S.A., co-owned by Habaguanex S.A., the commercial arm of the City Historian's Office, and an international confederation of investors. Most of the original building was then demolished, leaving only the façade on the two street-fronts. The building was reconstructed with seven floors and two basement levels and was reopened in 2005.[6][7]

The hotel often hosted prominent international politicians and celebrities, but the country's vital tourism sector had been struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic's effect on both national and international travel. At the time, the building was undergoing renovations and populated entirely by workers, fifty-one of whom were inside at the time.[8] The hotel was set to reopen on May 10, 2022.[9]

Explosion[edit]

External video
video icon USA Today clip of the damaged hotel on YouTube

The hotel was struck by a suspected gas explosion from a gas leak. The explosion destroyed entire sections of the building and damaged nearby buildings such as El Capitolio, Teatro Martí, and the Calvary Baptist Church. The façade of the building was almost entirely destroyed, and parts of it collapsed onto the street, crushing cars and people as well as sending debris flying through the air. As not all of the building was destroyed, remaining rooms could be seen damaged from the street.[2]

Casualties[edit]

As of May 15, 99 people were reported as injured, of which 12 were hospitalized, 41 patients were discharged and 46 had died.[4] All but one of the dead were Cuban citizens, while the other was a Spanish tourist. Among the dead were four teenagers, a pregnant woman and a child. On May 10, it was reported that twenty-three of the 51 people who were working at the hotel at the time were killed, and three workers remained missing.[10]

Aftermath[edit]

Emergency personnel from Cuba and organizations like the Red Cross worked to excavate the site, locate survivors, and recover bodies. Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel visited the site on the same day as the explosion and visited survivors at Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital, where some blast victims were taken for treatment. Messages of support came from such figures as Marcelo Ebrard, the Mexican minister of foreign affairs,[11] and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.

The First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba said that 38 homes had been affected and that the neighboring building would be demolished.[10]

The Cuban president announced an official period of mourning from 06.00 on 13 May to 12.00 at night on 14 May.

On 13 May 2022, Cuban authorities concluded their search and rescue and all operations on the scene.[12] The authorities had an official mourning period from early on the 13th until midnight on 14th May.

References[edit]

  1. ^ de Córdoba, José (6 May 2022). "Cuba Hotel Explosion: At Least Nine Dead in Blast at Havana's Hotel Saratoga". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on 6 May 2022. Retrieved 6 May 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Death toll from explosion at Havana hotel rises to 40". AP NEWS. 9 May 2022. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  3. ^ Rodriguez, Andrea (8 May 2022). "Havana Hotel Death Toll Rises to 30 as Dogs Search for Survivors". TIME. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  4. ^ a b Minsap, Redacción (15 May 2022). "Información actualizada sobre el estado de los lesionados en el accidente del hotel Saratoga" [Update on the status of those injured in the Saratoga hotel accident]. Ministerio de Salud Pública (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 16 May 2022. Retrieved 16 May 2022.
  5. ^ "Desperate search for survivors in Cuba hotel explosion as death toll rises to at least 27". www.cbsnews.com. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  6. ^ Zenaida, Sánchez (6 May 2022). "Hotel "Saratoga"". Habana Radio (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 14 May 2022.
  7. ^ "History | Saratoga Hotel Havana". Saratoga Hotel. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  8. ^ "Hotel Saratoga Havana explosion death toll climbs to 35, including 4 minors and a pregnant woman". CBS News. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  9. ^ https://www.granma.cu/cuba/2022-05-06/ministro-del-turismo-el-hotel-no-estaba-en-funcionamiento
  10. ^ a b "The death toll rises to 42 after an explosion at a hotel in Cuba". NPR. Associated Press. 10 May 2022. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  11. ^ "Hotel Saratoga: At least 30 dead after a massive explosion destroyed a hotel in Havana, Cuba". News Digest Blog. 9 May 2022. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  12. ^ Vicent, Mauricio (13 May 2022). "Cuba concluye las tareas de rescate tras la explosión del hotel Saratoga con un saldo de 46 muertos" [Cuba concludes rescue efforts after Saratoga hotel explosion leaves 46 people dead]. El País (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 13 May 2022.