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article imageCelebrated hotel in Haiti gutted by fire

By AFP     Apr 4, 2016 in Travel

A fire early Monday ravaged one of the oldest hotel-restaurants in the upscale hilltop suburb of Petionville overlooking Port-au-Prince.

The fire at the Cubano, a 12-room hotel renamed Le Perroquet in 2012, broke out in a storage room and quickly spread as it took firefighters over an hour to respond.

About 10 people were inside the hotel at the time, but all escaped uninjured.

"It was part of the social scene since the 1970s -- the obligatory place to end an evening," said Stephane Malebranche, who was in the crowd of onlookers gathered outside the gutted building.

The hotel was known for its concerts and entertainment promoting traditional Haitian culture.

"Everyone knows the Cubano in Petionville and, look, a 30-year-old institution disappears in flames in less than 20 minutes," said a distraught Bianca Stecker, the owner's daughter.

"For years complaints have been made about the makeshift structures that have been built next to the hotel. The danger was there but nothing could be done about it."

There is only a single fire station serving the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area and its three million inhabitants.

National Assembly deputy for Petionville Jerry Tardieu acknowledged the weaknesses in government services.

"We don't have urban planning. We have truly anarchic development," he said. "Haiti is a country that has to be re-thought and this type of catastrophe shows the urgent need for long-term planning."

On March 18, seven people burned to death and 30 others were seriously hurt when a fuel truck exploded in Hinche, 110 kilometers (70 miles)from Port-au-Prince.

The truck crashed into a wall and fuel spilled into the streets, igniting when it came into contact with the cooking fires of roadside vendors.

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