Cuba in mourning over 45 dead from hotel explosion
Cuban authorities Thursday decreed a 42-hour official mourning period starting at dawn Friday to honor the 45 victims of the Saratoga Hotel explosion in Havana last week.
The last lifeless body was retrieved early Thursday from the remains of the building, which will now need to be assessed before deciding on either its reconstruction or full demolition.
”In view of the unfortunate accident that occurred at the Saratoga hotel on May 6, in which 44 compatriots and a Spanish citizen have lost their lives so far, and after the rescue and salvage actions were concluded, the president of the Republic of Cuba (Miguel Díaz-Canel) agreed to decree official mourning, said the official announcement.
During the mourning, which will be in force from dawn on Friday until midnight on Saturday, the Cuban flag must be hoisted at half-mast in public buildings and military institutions, the document went on.
The measure was adopted shortly after Fire Brigade Chief Colonel Luis Carlos Guzmán announced the recovery of the last body from the rubble of the hotel, which exploded late Friday morning while it was being supplied with gas.
With Thursday’s mission, the final toll of the explosion was 45 people dead, including four children and adolescents, a pregnant woman, and a 29-year-old Spanish tourist.
According to the Ministry of Public Health, the accident, probably caused by a gas leak, also left 54 injured, of which 16 remained hospitalized Thursday, among them four children, two of them reported in critical condition.
The five-star hotel on the busy Paseo del Prado in Old Havana had been closed for two years due to the pandemic and was preparing to reopen to the public last Tuesday. Its first four floors were destroyed. Built in the 1880s and transformed into a hotel in 1933, the Saratoga was known for having hosted celebrities such as Mick Jagger, Beyoncé, and Madonna.
The British-based Solidarity with Cuba Campaign organization has been raising funds to assist the injured and support the families of the deceased and the emergency services,” Prensa Latina reported.