MADRID, Spain. – It’s been one year since the unfortunate explosion at the Saratoga Hotel in Havana, which took the lives of 47 people (25 men and 22 women) and injured another hundred.
On that day, restoration work was being conducted in preparation for reopening, which is the reason why most of the victims were hotel workers. The majority of the victims were Cuban nationals, except for one Spanish tourist, a young woman who was vacationing in Cuba and was walking by the hotel when the explosion occurred. Four children and a pregnant woman were also among the fatalities. The last injured individual who was hospitalized was discharged last June 28th.
Although Cuban authorities stated that the explosion had resulted from a gas leak, to date no official report has been published about the reasons for the explosion.
According to Alexis Acosta Silva, mayor of Old Havana municipality, the explosion occurred when a liquid gas container was being unloaded at the hotel. The blast blew the whole façade of the hotel to shreds, right across the Capitol Building, in what is one of the busiest zones in Havana.
The explosion not only destroyed more than half of the Saratoga building, mostly the façade and one of the sides, but also caused severe damage to 17 neighboring buildings. The Office of Havana Historian took charge of restoring four of them: the Martí Theater, the Capitol Building, the Yoruba Cultural Association and El Calvario Baptist Church.
The Saratoga Hotel was built in 1880, and initially it was a warehouse. It was inaugurated as a hotel in 1933. In 2005, a major renovation was undertaken by the Office of Havana Historian, on the occasion of the 486th anniversary of the founding of San Cristóbal de La Habana.
That year, it reopened as a luxury 5-star hotel, with 96 guest rooms, three bars, two restaurants and a business center. Later, a high-end spa and gymnasium were added.
International celebrities had stayed in the hotel, like the Queen of Pop, Madonna, and the American singer Beyoncé and her husband, Jay-Z the rapper.
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