At least four people were killed in the collapse of hotel in southeastern China that was being used for medical observation of people who had arrived from areas hit by the coronavirus outbreak, authorities said Sunday.
The sudden collapse of the building on Saturday evening trapped 71 people, the Ministry of Emergency Management said. Thirty-eight had been rescued as of 10:30 a.m. Sunday, including one person in critical condition and four others in serious condition, the ministry said.
The ministry earlier reported that 48 people had been rescued. It did not immediately explain the discrepancy.
More than 1,000 firefighters and seven rescue dogs were dispatched to the site, according to the ministry. News photos showed rescue workers with flashlights climbing over the debris and bringing people out. Rubble was left piled on cars in front of the building.
The Xinjia Express Hotel is in Quanzhou, a coastal city in Fujian province. The city government said it was housing people who had come from coronavirus-hit areas. Most parts of China are quarantining people from such areas for 14 days.
Two supermarkets on the first floor of the building were undergoing remodeling, and a pillar reportedly deformed a few minutes prior to the collapse, the official Xinhua News Agency said, quoting a district offfical.
The owner of the building has been put under police control, Xinhua reported. Construction of the building began in 2013 and it was converted into 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 newspaper Beijing Youth Daily said.
China, where the virus first emerged in December, has confirmed more than 80,000 cases, by far the most in the world.
It reported 44 new cases over the last 24 hours on Sunday morning, the lowest level since it began publishing nationwide figures on Jan 20. Another 27 deaths were reported, bringing the total to 3,097.
Most of the cases have been in Wuhan, an inland city about 670 kilometers (475 miles) northwest of Quanzhou.