STORY: Rescue workers, in the early hours of Monday, combed through the rubble of what was once Havana’s five-star Hotel Saratoga, uncovering more bodies and bringing the death toll to at least 31.
That’s according to officials, who say a gas leak caused Friday’s massive explosion. It blew the side off the hotel and collapsed its lower floors, leaving dozens trapped, killed or injured.
Before sunrise Monday, heavy machinery scooped up piles of debris, clearing away access to the basement of the building, where officials said they hope they could still find survivors.
The hotel’s security chief, Guillermo Diaz, recalled the harrowing moments after the blast:
"I can tell you that when I came back to my senses, I was under the rubble. I had no idea what was happening. I began to struggle a bit, I managed to get out... I had wounds on my forehead, on my head. I had no strength and many colleagues next to me, I tried to help them, but it was totally in vain.”
In addition to the victims, local authorities said another 85 people were injured.
The explosion caused serious damage to two adjoining upscale apartment buildings and caused lesser damage to 17 other structures in the area.