A powerful explosion at an undisclosed location severely affected the Saratoga Hotel in Havana this Friday, leaving no one injured at the time.
The blast occurred around 10:50 a.m. (2:50 PM GMT) and caused parts of the building to collapse, also affected by a fire that created a large column of white smoke visible from most parts of the city.
The ground floor, first and second floors of the six-story building were severely damaged in the blast, which fell on the front and caused a shower of debris in the street. Mountains of debris on the sidewalk have exceeded the height of one person.
The upper floors were also damaged.
Official media outlet Cubadabet assured in an initial report that there had been “serious damage and potential damage” and cited eyewitness quotes as possible gas leaks, an unproven extreme.
Emergency crews, firefighters and soldiers rushed to the scene. Many spectators also gathered around the building.
City officials have not yet commented on the cause of the blast or the possible damage.
Saratoga is housed in a neoclassical-style building built in 1880 and has been operating as a hotel since 1933. According to state media, the last recovery was in 2005.
The five-star hotel is considered one of the most luxurious in the city.
The installation is located on Paseo del Prado, one of the main thoroughfares in Old Havana, in the historic center of the Cuban capital.