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China hotel collapse: 70 people trapped in building used for coronavirus quarantine

More than two dozen people pulled from rubble so far

Andy Gregory
Saturday 07 March 2020 15:08 GMT
Chinese hotel used as coronavirus quarantine centre collapses

A hotel being used as a coronavirus quarantine centre in China has collapsed, leaving 70 people trapped.

The five-storey building in Fujian province was being used to house and observe people who had come into contact with Covid-19 patients when it collapsed at around 7:30pm local time.

Some 38 people have so far been rescued from the wreckage of the Xinjia Express Hotel in Quanzhou, local officials announced four hours later.

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Nearly 150 firefighters are thought to be engaged in the rescue operation. Footage shared to social media shows emergency service workers clambering among the rubble and using powerful torches to search for survivors.

“I was just having dinner and I suddenly heard a loud bang and thought it was an explosion,” South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported a man who lived in the building opposite as telling state-affiliated media.

“It was not until I ran to my balcony that I saw that the entire hotel building had collapsed.”

The hotel is one of two buildings being used as a quarantine centre in the city’s Licheng district, after opening as a hotel in June 2018, according to SCMP.

The reason for the collapse is not yet known. An unidentified hotel employee cited by the Beijing Youth Daily said the owner carried out “foundation-related construction” before the disaster. It gave no details.

Beijing has sent a working team to aid with the rescue operation, according to state media.

One woman told Beijing News that her sister and other relatives had been quarantined at the hotel after returning from Hubei province, the outbreak’s epicentre.

She said they had arrived on 25 February and had been scheduled to leave soon after completing their two weeks of quarantine.

“I can’t contact them, they’re not answering their phones,” she said. “I’m under quarantine too [at another hotel] and I’m very worried, I don’t know what to do. They were healthy, they took their temperatures every day, and the tests showed that everything was normal.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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