Cuba | Rescuers Recover Body of Last Missing Person After Saratoga Hotel Explosion; 45 dead

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Cuban rescue officials reported late Thursday that they had recovered the body of the last person who was believed missing after an explosion last week that blew out the sides of a luxury hotel in historic Havana.

The discovery of the body raised the death toll to 45.

Friday’s massive explosion at the five-star Hotel Saratoga, a block from the iconic capitol building in a renovated area of ​​Havana popular with tourists, left more than 100 people trapped, dead or injured. Fifteen remain hospitalized.

Authorities say a gas leak caused the explosion.

Luis Carlos Guzman, chief of Cuba’s fire department, told reporters at the scene of the blast that the woman whose body had been recovered, believed to be a chambermaid at the hotel, was “from now on, the last missing person“.

The hotel was closed at the time of the explosion, but It was scheduled to open on Monday. Most of those killed or injured were Cuban personnel or bystanders, including a Spanish tourist and a pregnant woman. Several children from a nearby school were injured in the blast and four were killed.

Photo: Reuters

Shortly after the recovery of what was believed to be the last body, the President Miguel Diaz-Canel declared national mourning in honor of the deceased.

For days, Cuban rescuers have sifted through huge mounds of rubble at the base of the hotel’s neoclassical building, which is more than a century old. They have sought to reach areas of difficult access on the lower floorswhere the last bodies were found.

In addition to the human toll, the blast severely damaged two adjoining luxury apartment buildings and inflicted minor damage on 17 structures within a two-block radius.

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