Around 70 people were trapped after the collapse of a hotel used as a coronavirus quarantine facility in eastern China on Saturday evening, officials said.
At least 37 people have so far been rescued from the rubble of the Xinjia hotel in coastal Quanzhou city, the emergency management ministry said.
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 wounded 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 had gathered around the area as the evening wore on.
Officials have yet to confirm whether anyone has died in the accident.
Fujian province authorities have sent around 150 rescue workers to the scene, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
#BREAKING: A hotel building collapsed in Quanzhou, SE China’s Fujian at around 7 pm Saturday, trapping an unknown number of people under it. So far 16 people have been rescued. Rescue work remains underway. pic.twitter.com/rK7tEagQvV
— People’s Daily, China (@PDChina) March 7, 2020
Representatives from Beijing are also en route to Quanzhou to assist in relief efforts, reported Xinhua news agency.
Quanzhou has recorded 47 cases of the COVID-19 infection 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.