Sat | Sep 23, 2023

CARICOM expresses sadness at deaths in Cuban hotel explosion

Published:Monday | May 9, 2022 | 1:47 PM
A member of a rescue team walks past a crushed car at the site of a deadly explosion that destroyed the five-star Hotel Saratoga, in Havana, Cuba, Friday, May 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – The 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping Monday expressed “profound sorrow” at the loss of lives with the collapse of Hotel Saratoga in Cuba last week following a gas explosion.

It described the incident as tragic and wished a full and speedy recovery to those who were injured.

“CARICOM is confident that the renowned resilience of the Cuban people will enable them to recover from this disaster and we stand in solidarity with the Government and people of Cuba at this difficult time,” said CARICOM Secretary-General Dr Carla Barnett in a message to Cuba's President Miguel Díaz-Cane.

CARICOM chairman and Belize Prime Minister, John Briceno, had earlier sent “messages of strength and solidarity to the President and the people of Cuba”, adding that “our hearts and thoughts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy.

“I am pleased to know that the doctors and students from Belize were among the first to visit the scene of the tragedy to provide help. That shows their gratitude and therefore the Beliceño people to the Cuban people who have given them so much. In the words of the National Hero of Cuba, Jose Martí, “Doing is the best way to say,” Briceno added.

The death toll from the powerful explosion at the luxury hotel increased to 31 on Sunday evening as search crews with dogs hunted through the rubble of the iconic 19th century building.

The Hotel Saratoga, a five-star 96-room hotel in Old Havana, was preparing to reopen after being closed for two years when an apparent gas leak ignited, blowing the outer walls into busy streets on Friday.

Several nearby structures have also been damaged, including the historic Marti Theatre and the Calvary Baptist Church, headquarters for the denomination in western Cuba.

In releasing the names of those who were killed, the Health Ministry said the dead included four minors, a pregnant woman and a Spanish tourist, whose companion was seriously injured.

It said 54 people were injured, with 24 hospitalised after having previously reported 85 injured.

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