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A massive explosion at the Saratoga Hotel in Havana, Cuba, killed at least eight people on Friday, according to the country’s government.
Search and rescue operations at the luxury property – where up to 13 people are missing – are continuing as “people may still be trapped”, he added.
“Initial investigations indicate that the explosion was caused by a gas leak”, The Cuban government said in a tweet.
Local health officials confirmed that eight people died and 30 were injured in the blast.
Footage posted on social media showed part of the hotel’s exterior completely destroyed, revealing the interior of its rooms.
Videos showed smoke rising into the sky as a crowd gathered to watch the destruction.
The five-star, 19th-century property has 96 rooms, two bars, two restaurants and a rooftop pool, according to the Associated Press.
“Investigations are continuing and everything indicates that the explosion was caused by an accident,” the Cuban government said.
Several of the injured were reportedly taken to a local hospital.
The mayor of Havana also said children from a school adjacent to the hotel had been safely evacuated.
Photographer Michel Figueroa told The Associated Press he was walking past the hotel when “the explosion knocked me to the ground and I still have a headache…It all happened very quickly” .
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Yazira de la Caridad, a mother of two, said the blast shook her home a block from the hotel: ‘The whole building shook. I thought it was an earthquake’ , she said. “I always have my heart in my hand.”
Mayiee Pérez said she rushed to the scene after receiving a call from her husband, Daniel Serra, who works at a currency exchange inside the hotel. She said he told her, “I’m fine, I’m fine. They took us out,” but that he hadn’t been able to reach him since.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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