Death toll from Havana hotel explosion rises to 40

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More bodies were pulled from the ruins of a luxury hotel in Cuba’s capital on Monday, bringing the official death toll of a powerful explosion at the iconic building to 40.

Dr. Julio Guerra, chief of hospital services at the Ministry of Health, said at a news conference that more bodies had been recovered in the last few hours. He added that there were still 18 people hospitalized for injuries from Friday’s blast at the 19th-century Hotel Saratoga.

Search crews with dogs have been hunting through debris in the hotel in Cuba’s capital.

Before the latest update given by Guerra, the toll of dead was 35, and 20 injured patients were listed as being hospitalized.

The 96-room, five-star 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 the busy, midmorning streets just a block from the country’s Capitol building on Friday.

A member of a rescue team carries a stretcher after recovering a body from the rubble and loading it into a coroner’s vehicle at the site of the explosion on Monday. (Ramon Espinosa/The Associated Press)

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

Authorities said an investigation was underway to determine the cause of the explosion at the hotel, which is owned by Grupo de Turismo Gaviota SA, one of the businesses run by the Cuban military.



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