Death toll from Old Havana building collapse in Cuba rises to three

HAVANA (Reuters) -A residential building collapse in the Cuban capital of Havana on Tuesday night has killed at least three people, state media said on Wednesday.

The partial collapse of the three-story building in the Old Havana district popular with tourists gutted the insides of the decrepit building that was home to 13 families and 54 people. It tore terraces off its facade and trapped many people beneath piles of rubble in interior spaces of the structure.

The communist-run Caribbean island, ravaged by a deepening economic slump fueled by U.S. sanctions and floundering tourism, has acknowledged its inability to keep up with repairs and new construction, leaving many citizens in often dangerous accommodations.

Rescuers worked into the daylight hours early on Wednesday to find two people who were pulled out from the wreckage following a second partial collapse in the morning as wind and rain lashed the area.

Later on Wednesday, the capital city government wrote in a post on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, that it had found the body of another person trapped in the building.

Cuban state media put the death toll from the disaster at three people, in a post on X.

The building collapse is the latest in a series of disasters that have beset Cuba, including a gas explosion that destroyed Havana’s Saratoga Hotel last year and a massive tank farm fire in Matanzas, an hour east of the capital, several months later.

In September, Construction Minister Rene Mesa Villafaña said more than 850,000 housing structures in Cuba were in need of maintenance and repair, and said the government was working to build new more adequate housing.

(Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Angus MacSwan)