February 11, 2001

Fire destroys U.S. news agency bureau in Havana

                  HAVANA, Cuba (Reuters) -- A fire apparently caused by an electrical
                  malfunction gutted the Havana bureau of the U.S. news agency The Associated
                  Press (AP) on Sunday, an agency reporter said.

                  "It's completely burned out," AP Havana bureau chief Anita Snow told Reuters,
                  adding that no one was hurt because the office was unoccupied at the time.

                  The blaze broke out in the AP bureau on the sixth floor of the Lonja de
                  Comercio, a 90-year-old historic commercial building in Old Havana that
                  reopened in 1996 as a modern complex for foreign companies.

                  The adjoining office occupied by the Havana bureau of Spanish state television
                  suffered smoke damage. But the rest of the six-story building was undamaged.

                  Snow said Cuban fire officials told her that an electrical problem apparently
                  sparked the fire.

                  AP returned to Havana in 1999 after a 30-year absence. Cuba's communist
                  government had forced it to close its offices in 1969 after expelling its last
                  permanent correspondent.

                     Copyright 2001 Reuters.