Deaths from Explosion at Havana’s Saratoga Hotel Rises to 43

Debris removal work at the Saratoga hotel. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerThree new bodies were found under the rubble of the Saratoga Hotel on Tuesday, four days after the explosion. With this, the deceased number 43, according to the data revealed by the rescue teams.

Two of the latest victims lived in the building next to the hotel, which partially collapsed. They are Juan Carlos Díaz Álvarez, 55, who was a constituency delegate, and María Consuelo Alard Valdés, 77, according to Inventario.  Alard owned a dog that was rescued alive. A third recovered body has not yet been identified, according to the latest report from the Ministry of Health.

Inventario also added that three hotel workers were still missing: Shady Cobas Mesa, Susel Torres and Yosmany Hernández Temo.

The head of the Fire Department, Colonel Luis Guzmán, told the Cuban News Agency that they continue to search for more victims in the kitchen and dining room areas, in “high-risk” conditions.

The rescue teams detailed that they have searched the multi-family building next to the hotel, which was also heavily affected by the explosion.

Of the 42 fatalities, in the last update, this Monday, the Ministry of Health identified ten of them: Rafael Viga Torres, 50, Luillys Oquendo Díaz, 34, Maylen Quesada Velazco, 31, Aivis Chang Cruz, 45, Yaser Díaz Vázquez, 38, Claudia Castellanos Antuz, 30, Misael Sánchez Mantilla, 48, Leaney Sencio Hechavarría, 47, Juan Carlos Díaz Álvarez, 55, and María Consuelo Álvarez Valdés, 77, all from Havana.

The latest official report also indicated that the explosion left 96 injured, of which 17 are still hospitalized and 37 were discharged.

As the hours pass, it becomes difficult to maintain hope of finding more victims alive, but the relatives of the disappeared wait in a nearby building.

Among the disappeared, before the discovery of the bodies today, were: Yosmani Hernández, Shady Cobas and Susel Torres, all hotel workers.

Meanwhile, the Cuban Ministry of Tourism assures that the incident will not affect the country as a tourist destination. “Our facilities continue to serve national and international tourists who spend their holidays here with the tranquility and safety that characterizes us,” Ministry spokeswoman Carmen Casals said at a press conference, referring to the Saratoga explosion as “regrettable and sad accident.”

The event occurred on Friday around 10:50 in the morning, in the historic building in Old Havana. According to the main hypothesis, it occured when a truck was supplying liquefied gas to the establishment. The hotel that was a construction site and was scheduled to reopen on May 10.

Among the buildings that suffered the most deterioration is the Martí Theater and the Baptist temple, in addition, the Yoruba Religious Cultural Center and the Capitol have minor damage.


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