The bomber struck shortly after noon in the old town of Havana. The hotel is located opposite the old Cuban Congress building. Initially, officials blamed gas leaks for the blast.
The BBC reports that the five-storey luxury Saratoga Hotel was closed for a long time due to Corona. It was supposed to be reopened in the next four days after overcoming the crisis. As a result of this explosion, it is believed that the hotel is not going to be opened. Most of the outer walls were destroyed in the blast.
Work is underway to rescue people trapped under the rubble. The injured are being treated at nearby hospitals. More than 64 people have already been admitted to the hospital. On the other hand, members of the law enforcers surrounded Havana’s historic buildings for security shortly after the explosion.
Yazira de la Caridad, a resident of the area, told CBS News that at first she thought it was an earthquake. Witnesses said they saw black smoke and dust billowing into the sky after the blast.
There is a school just behind the hotel. However, the school was not harmed. Local officials confirmed that the students had been evacuated immediately after the blast.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has visited the damaged hotel. He said it was not a bomb attack. This is an unfortunate accident.
The accident happened as Corona was trying to revive the Cuban tourism industry after a two-year hiatus. The Saratoga Hotel was closed for renovations for most of the Corona period.
Built in the 19th century, the Saratoga Hotel is well known to foreign tourists. Attempts are being made to have a conflict between Havana and Washington during the time of former US President Barack Obama. Famous celebrities like Madonna, Beyonc ও and Mick Jagger were staying at this hotel at that time.