Havana hotel blast kills at least four people

STORY: President Miguel Diaz-Canel said the explosion at the Hotel Saratoga had not been caused by a bomb, adding that a gas leak appeared to be the most likely cause.

State TV said the blast was "not a terrorist attack," adding that the hotel was closed and only workers were inside at time of the explosion.

A Reuters witness saw smoke and flames coming from the building. Police and rescue workers flocked to the area, cordoning off key points and buildings nearby, including the historic Capitolio building.

Nearby, ambulances were seen approaching a hospital in the old quarter of Havana surrounded by a crowd of doctors, nurses, police and curious onlookers.

The neoclassical style hotel was remodeled by a British company after the fall of the Soviet Union and was considered the place to go for visiting government officials and celebrities for many years. Recently, it had lost some of its shine with the opening of new hotels in Havana, but was still a five-star venue.

The hotel had been set for a post-pandemic re-opening in four days, according to its Facebook page.

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