8 Mar 2020

Coronavirus: Dozens trapped as China quarantine hotel collapses

10:33 pm on 8 March 2020

Ten people have died in the collapse of a hotel in the Chinese city of Quanzhou, Chinese state media are reporting.

(200308) -- QUANZHOU, March 8, 2020 (Xinhua) -- Rescuers work at the accident site of a hotel in Quanzhou, southeast China's Fujian Province, March 8, 2020.

Emergency workers have helped dozens of people reach safety after a hotel collapsed in Quanzhou, China. Photo: AFP

Chinese state media have been reporting the hotel was being used to quarantine individuals under observation for the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The hotel began to collapse about 7.30pm on Saturday evening (Chinese time). As of 10.30am local time on Sunday, authorities had retrieved 43 people from the site of the collapse, the Ministry of Emergency Management said.

Of that total, 36 had been sent to hospital for care and one person did not need medical treatment, it said.

Authorities are still searching for 28 people, the ministry said.

According to state media outlet Xinhua, the owner of the building, a man surnamed Yang, has been summoned by police.

The building's first floor had been under renovation at the time of the collapse, the news agency said.

Pictures from the site showed rescue workers clad in hard hats, goggles and face masks carrying injured people away to waiting medical staff in white overalls and surgical masks.

A rescue force of over 1000 people, including firefighters, police officers, and other emergency responders, arrived at the site on Saturday night, authorities told a media conference organised by the Quanzhou government on Sunday.

Of the 71 people inside the hotel at the time of the collapse, 58 had been under quarantine, they added.

Rescue operations at the accident site of a hotel in Quanzhou, southeast China's Fujian Province.
According to a preliminary report, about 70 people were trapped. More than 700 rescue workers have been sent to the scene, and 38 people had been rescued.

A floor of the building was reportedly being renovated at the time of the collapse. Photo: AFP

The hotel reportedly opened in 2018 and had 80 guest rooms.

One woman told the Beijing News website that relatives including her sister had been under quarantine there.

"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."

Read more about the Covid-19 coronavirus:

News of the hotel's collapse comes as the spread of Covid-19 continues to slow in China.

According to data from China's National Health Commission (NHC), cases fell by roughly one half on Saturday from the day prior.

The agency confirmed 44 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus as at the end yesterday, a decline from 99 the previous day.

The fall comes as Chinese cities gradually relax quarantine measures put in place over a month ago, while authorities keep a close watch on the virus' spread overseas.

Of the 44 new confirmed cases, 41 were discovered in Wuhan, the origin of the virus' outbreak and its hotbed.

The remaining three were cases imported from outside mainland China.

This marks the second consecutive day in which all of China's newly confirmed cases outside of the city of Wuhan originated from overseas. The three cases bring China's total imported case count to 63.

According to the Beijing Municipal Health Commission, two of the cases found in Beijing originated in Italy and Spain.

As the virus slows its spread in Wuhan, authorities have reacted by closing hospitals built specifically to house its patients.

After the first such closure last week, on Sunday, CCTV reported that operations at a second hospital had been suspended, with its 25 remaining patients now discharged and declared cured.

-Reuters / BBC

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs