Police and fire rescuers are combing through rubble for survivors after an explosion late Friday morning destroyed a hotel in Havana, Cuba, killing at least 22 people and injuring at least 64, according to the Cuban presidency.
Here are key things to know:
What caused the explosion: A gas leak is thought to be the cause of the explosion at Hotel Saratoga, according to the Cuban Presidential Office, who said that more details would follow. “Everything indicates that the explosion was caused by an accident,” the Cuban Presidential Office said in a tweet.
According to preliminary data, a child and a pregnant woman were among those who died, it said.
The presidency also said 64 people have been hospitalized for injuries, including 14 minors.
Cuban President President Miguel Diaz-Canel visited the site of the explosion on Friday and Hermanos Ameijeras hospital, where a number of victims were sent to, according to images shared by the Presidential Office on Twitter.
He said the explosion was “not a bomb nor an attack, it’s a regrettable accident,” after returning to the site of the blast.
Hospitals continue to treat all the wounded and rescue activities are still underway, he added.
What the scene was like: Witnesses described a “massive blast,” which appeared to destroy buses and cars outside the hotel in the center of the city. Images from the scene showed the blown-out facade of at least three floors of the ornate green-and-white stuccoed building. Plumes of dust and smoke could be seen rising around debris on the ground.
A CNN team on the ground saw a bloodied woman being carried away at the scene of the explosion. Fireman were using their bare hands to move chunks of broken granite and stone in order to pull people out of the rubble. Pieces of metal awnings, balconies and large chunks of stone were scattered about 300 feet away from the hotel.
The hotel’s significance: The hotel was built at the end of the 19th century and, by the 1930s, it was one of the most important hotels in the city. It has 96 rooms since reopening in 2005 after refurbishment, according to its website. Personalities such as the writer Rafael Alberti have passed through its doors.