A hotel in south-eastern China used as a quarantine centre for people who had come into contact with coronavirus patients has collapsed, trapping dozens, according to the local government.
The five-storey building in Fujian province was being used to house and observe people who had come into contact with Covid-19 patients when it collapsed at around 7:30pm local time, leaving 70 people trapped.
At least 34 people have so far been rescued from the wreckage of the Xinjia Express Hotel in Quanzhou, according to local officials.
Nearly 150 firefighters are thought to be engaged in the rescue operation. Footage shared to social media shows emergency service workers clambering among the rubble and using powerful torches to search for survivors.
“I was just having dinner and I suddenly heard a loud bang and thought it was an explosion,” South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported a man who lived in the building opposite as telling state-affiliated media.
“It was not until I ran to my balcony that I saw that the entire hotel building had collapsed.”
The hotel is one of two buildings being used as a quarantine centre in the city’s Licheng district, after opening as a hotel in June 2018, according to SCMP.
The reason for the collapse is not yet known. An unidentified hotel employee cited by the Beijing Youth Daily said the owner carried out “foundation-related construction” before the disaster. It gave no details.
Beijing has sent a working team to aid with the rescue operation, according to state media.
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.”
As of Friday, Fujian province had 296 cases of coronavirus. Meanwhile 10,819 people have been placed under observation because they have been in close contact with someone infected.
The World Health Organization says more than 101,000 people worldwide have now contracted the virus.
More than 3,000 people have died – the majority in the Chinese province of Hubei where the outbreak originated.