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Death toll from explosion at Havana hotel rises to 40

The death toll from a powerful explosion at a hotel in Cuba’s capital city, Havana, rose to 40.

Members of the Cuban Red Cross take a break after working in the rubble at the site of a deadly explosion that destroyed the five-star Hotel Saratoga in Old Havana. (Photo: AP)

More bodies were pulled from the ruins of a luxury hotel in Cuba’s capital 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 Friday, blowing the outer walls into the busy, midmorning streets just a block from Cuba’s capitol.

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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