According to the Ministry of Health, 54 people were also injured in the explosion, which occurred on Friday morning, and 17 of them are still hospitalized.
The Saratoga Hotel, emblematic of Old Havana, had been closed for two years due to the pandemic and was preparing to reopen to the public this Tuesday, after renovations. The first four floors of the five-star establishment were blown up by the explosion, when a tanker truck was supplying it with gas.
Of the 51 employees present on the spot at the time of the tragedy, 23 were killed, three remain hospitalized and 22 were able to leave the hospital, said Tuesday at a press conference Roberto Enrique Calzadilla, delegate of the tourist company Gaviota, detained by the Cuban army.
Three employees remain missing: “two waitresses and a cook,” he said.
Initial findings showed that the structure of the hotel was “80% affected” by the blast, according to Calzadilla.
The Saratoga is known for hosting several celebrities in recent years, including Mick Jagger, Beyoncé and Madonna.
Built in 1880 to house shops, the building was transformed into a hotel in 1933 and became a luxury establishment in 2005.
Tourism is Cuba’s main economic activity, after the sale of medical services, and is struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.