People fled in panic at Havana Harbour Mar 4 following explosions aboard the French ammunition ship Le Coubre.
People fled in panic at Havana Harbour Mar 4 following explosions aboard the French ammunition ship Le Coubre. Estimate of the number killed was 75, with a reported 100 injured.
The explosion took place during unloading of the 76 tons of munitions destined for Castro's army. Bullets exploded by the heat of the resulting fire whizzed through the docks area, as police tried to clear panic stricken locals.
Firefighters boarding the ship were caught by a second explosion about a half-hour after the first blast.
A one million dollar fund to aid the families of the victims has been sent by Cuban President Osvaldo Dorticos, with another 10,000 pesos allotted for relatives of the French victims.
After a midnight emergency Cabinet meeting, the President said in a TV broadcast that the disaster had "all the characteristics of a barbarous and criminal attack on the people of Cuba". He did not specifically mention sabotage at the time.
Prime Minister Fidel Castro immediately placed all military and police on an emergency standby. The Cabinet decreed a say of mourning for Mar 5. That day, eleven more dockworkers, cleaning debris from the ship explosion, were injured by exploding grenades.
At a mass funeral Mar 5 for the victims of the ship explosion, Castro alleged sabotage by detonating mechanism put aboard at a foreign port, and triggered as a grenade box was moved.