Steve May 6, 2022

At least four people are dead and others could still be trapped after an explosion hit a downtown Havana hotel Friday, according to the office of the Cuban president and witnesses.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel was at the scene of the Hotel Saratoga, where early investigations show the explosion was likely caused by a gas leak, said updates on the president’s Twitter account.

Search and rescue is underway at the hotel, according to the updates, citing the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba in the province of Havana Luis Antonio Torres Iribar.

A student told NBC News that the explosion woke him. “I was at home and heard a loud noise and I stood in my balcony and looked in that direction,” the student said in Spanish. “I thought it was coming from the store, but no, it came from Saratoga.”

“It was a large explosion. I felt it, I was asleep and it woke me,” he said.

Image: Rescuers work after an explosion in the Saratoga Hotel in Havana, on May 6, 2022.
Rescuers work after an explosion in the Hotel Saratoga in Havana on May 6, 2022.Adalberto Roque / AFP – Getty Images

Another witness saw smoke and flames coming from the building, according to Reuters.

Photos from Granma, the Cuban communist party’s official daily, showed images of the multistory Hotel Saratoga whose walls appeared to have been blown out by the blast up several stories.

Police and rescue workers flocked to the scene, cordoning off key points and buildings nearby, including the historic Capitolio building.

This is a breaking news story. Please return for updates.

Elisha Fieldstadt is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

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