Dozens trapped after coronavirus quarantine centre collapses in China

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Nearly 40 people rescued from rubble of hotel in Quanzhou city

Dozens of people were trapped after a hotel used as a coronavirus quarantine facility in eastern China collapsed on Saturday evening, officials said.

The local government in coastal Quanzhou city said at least 70 people were trapped in the rubble of the 80-room Xinjia hotel while nearly 40 people had been rescued.

Footage circulating on microblogging platform Weibo showed rescue workers combing through the building’s wreckage in the dark and reassuring a woman trapped under heavy debris as other victims were carried into ambulances.

The hotel’s facade appeared to have crumbled into the ground, exposing the building’s steel frame, and a crowd gathered around the area as the evening wore on.

Officials have yet to confirm whether anyone died in the accident.

“I was at a gas station and heard a loud noise. I looked up and the whole building collapsed. Dust was everywhere, and glass fragments were flying around,” a witness said in a video posted on the Miaopai streaming app.

“I was so terrified that my hands and legs were shivering.”

A woman identified only by her surname, Chen, told the Beijing News website that relatives including her sister had been under quarantine at the hotel as prescribed by local regulations after returning from Hubei province, where the coronavirus emerged.

She said they had been scheduled to leave soon after completing their 14 days of isolation.

“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.”

Quanzhou authorities said more than 700 rescue workers had been sent to the site along with ambulances, excavators and cranes.

Representatives from Beijing were travelling to Quanzhou to assist in relief efforts, Xinhua news agency reported.

Quanzhou has recorded 47 cases of the Covid-19 virus and the hotel, which opened just two years ago, was recently repurposed to house people who had been in recent contact with confirmed patients, the People’s Daily state newspaper reported.

China is no stranger to building collapses and deadly construction accidents, which are typically blamed on the country’s rapid growth leading to corner-cutting by builders and the widespread flouting of safety rules.

At least 20 people died in 2016 when a series of crudely-constructed multi-storey buildings packed with migrant workers collapsed in the eastern city of Wenzhou.

Another 10 were killed last year in Shanghai after the collapse of a commercial building during renovations.

 

This article originally appeared on The National, UAE

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