A five-story hotel allegedly housing patients with quarantined coronavirus has collapsed in south-eastern China leaving up to 70 people stranded under the rubble.
According to local news reports, the Xinjia Hotel in the town of Quanzhou collapsed just after 7 pm local time on Saturday.
A video stream published by the state-backed Beijing News site showed rescue workers clambering in orange overalls over debris and twisted steel-work carrying people into ambulances.
At least 34 people were rescued out of the ruins by 10 pm, with about 36 more being believed to still be trapped underground.
Quanzhou is a port city in Fujian province on the Taiwan Strait with a population of over 8 million residents.
The hotel was designed in 2018 for business travelers and has at least 80 beds.
‘ I was in a gas station, listening to a loud noise. I looked up, and the entire building broke down. Dust was everywhere, and glass fragments were flying around, “said a witness in a video posted on the streaming app from Miaopai.
There have been no confirmed reports of death following the collapse of the hotel, and what caused it is still not clear.
A woman named solely by her surname, Chen, informed the Beijing News website that after returning from Hubei province, where the coronavirus originated, relatives like her sister had been under quarantine at the hotel as required by local regulations.
She further told that they were supposed to leave shortly after their 14 days of isolation had ended.
“I cannot contact them, they don’t answer their phones,” she said. “I’m also under quarantine (at another hotel) and I’m very worried, I don’t know what to do. They were safe, they took their temperatures regularly and the tests showed that it was all natural.
After the hotel collapsed overhead, Footage shows rescuers looking for injured people. The horrible consequence, captured on film, shows the hotel rising to the surface as rescue workers were struggling.
The municipality responded by saying 36 emergency evacuation vehicles like cranes and excavators, 67 fire fighting automobiles, 15 ambulances and even more than 700 firefighters, medical and other rescue workers were still on the scene as the operation extended into the night.
More than 2 million Weibo users viewed the video stream of Beijing News on Saturday night, and the collapse of the hotel was the top trending topic on the Weibo site, a close equivalent of China to Twitter. Some of the users have demanded an inquiry into how the hotel might have collapsed.
Rage was rising up against the Chinese authorities over their early handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed over 3,300 people worldwide, most of them in China.
The number of people diagnosed with coronavirus worldwide has reached 102,000 and caused 3,480 deaths.
In mainland China the total number of confirmed cases so far is 80,651.