22 dead after huge explosion at a hotel in Havana, Cuba
The explosion rattled a nearby school with more than 300 students in attendance, health authorities said. At least 15 children were reported injured as of late Friday evening, the health ministry said, and one child had died.
Cuba's tourism minister, Juan Carlos Garcia, said no foreigners were killed or injured in the blast, according to initial reports.
The hotel, housed in a more than century-old building, had been closed and only workers were inside at time of the explosion, state-run TV said, citing Roberto Enrique Calzadilla, a representative of the military-run company that operates many of the country's hotels.
In a broadcast interview, Calzadilla said the 96-room hotel had been set to re-open in the next few days and that the workers on site were making final preparations.
He also said a gas leak appeared to be the cause.
"The workers were ... making repairs and doing all the work to open the property and in the morning they were resupplying the gas and it seems some accident caused an explosion," he said.
The blast shrouded the building and surrounding streets in plumes of black smoke and dust rising from the rubble.
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