Several killed in collapse of hotel in China used as virus quarantine site

At least ten people were killed in the collapse of a hotel in southeast China that was used for medical observation of people arriving from areas affected by the coronavirus epidemic, authorities said on Sunday.

The sudden collapse of the building on Saturday evening trapped 71 people, the Ministry of Emergency Management said. Thirty-eight were rescued on Sunday at 10:30 a.m., including one person in critical condition and four others in serious condition, the ministry said.

The ministry previously reported that 48 people had been rescued. He did not immediately explain the difference.

According to the ministry, more than 1,000 firefighters and seven rescue dogs have been dispatched to the site. Press photos show rescuers with flashlights climbing on debris and taking people out. The rubble was piled on cars in front of the building.

Xinjia Express Hotel is located in Quanzhou, a coastal city in Fujian Province. The city government said it was hosting people from areas affected by the coronavirus. Most regions of China quarantine people from these regions for 14 days.

Two supermarkets on the first floor of the building were under renovation and a pillar would have deformed a few minutes before the collapse, the official Xinhua news agency quoted a district official as saying.

The owner of the building was placed under police control, Xinhua reported. Construction of the building began in 2013 and it was converted to a 66-room hotel in 2018, the official told Xinhua.

The hotel opened in June 2018, with rooms on the fourth to seventh floors of the building, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

China, where the virus first appeared in December, has confirmed more than 80,000 cases, by far the highest in the world.

It reported 44 new cases in the past 24 hours on Sunday morning, the lowest level since it started releasing figures nationwide on January 20. Another 27 deaths have been reported, bringing the total to 3,097.

Most cases occurred in Wuhan, an inland city located about 670 kilometers (475 miles) northwest of Quanzhou.

((AP)