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Crews recover final missing person in debris of wrecked 5-star Havana hotel

By Ashley Williams
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Crews recover final missing person in debris of wrecked 5-star Havana hotel
Search crews look through debris from the Hotel Saratoga in Havana, Cuba, on Thursday after the building exploded last week and killed at least 45 people. Photo by Yander Zamora/EPA-EFE

May 13 (UPI) -- Authorities in Cuba say they have recovered the body of the last missing person from the Havana hotel explosion that occurred a week ago.

Officials announced the find late on Thursday after crews had combed through the debris of the five-star Hotel Saratoga for several days straight. The explosion on May 6 tore off the sides of the luxury hotel, which is located in Old Havana near Cuba's capitol building.

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The discovery raised the death toll from the blast to 45. Fifteen people are in the hospital with injuries, including children. Among the dead were a Spanish national, a pregnant woman and four children from a nearby school.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel ordered a two-day mourning period to remember the dozens of people who were killed in the explosion, which included multiple children. File Photo by Ernesto Mastrascusa/EPA-EFE

Investigators have said that a gas leak was the likely cause of the explosion, which occurred in a part of Havana that's popular with tourists.

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Friday marked the beginning of a two-day mourning period in Cuba.

Authorities must now determine whether the famous hotel can be salvaged, or if it should be razed. Officials said previously that about 80% of the hotel was destroyed by the explosion. It also harmed nearby structures when tons of concrete were hurled in all directions.

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The Hotel Saratoga had been undergoing renovations for two years and was supposed to reopen this month. It was built as a warehouse facility in the 1880s and remodeled into a hotel in 1933.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has ordered that the national flag be flown at half-mast at public buildings and military facilities until this weekend.

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