Workers have partially demolished a Chinese hospital with several doctors and a patient still inside, local media has reported, burying bodies stored in its morgue under rubble and prompting an investigation.

Doctors were operating on a patient when the demolition work began

Around 20 people dressed in military fatigues destroyed part of Fourth Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, Huiji district, in the capital of central Henan province, according to the public television channel CCTV.

“I was operating … [an X-ray] machine. The noise [of the demolition] was terrifying,” Liu Chunguang, the hospital’s director of radiology, said.

“My patient was sitting beside me, shouting that there was an earthquake. The patient ran away, terrified.”

He said only a few doctors and one patient were in the hospital at the time.

Images published by Chinese media apparently taken at the site showed several rooms with collapsing ceilings, holes through brick walls, swinging lights as well as masses of loose cables and debris.

The hospital’s morgue was “razed”, according to local newspaper Dahebao, and six of the bodies stored there covered in rubble, while medical equipment worth 4 million yuan ($873,000) was damaged.

Three hospital employees were injured during a confrontation with the demolition workers, CCTV reported.

Authorities in Huiji district said they were investigating the incident but results would not be announced before Monday.

On Friday, they said they had not yet identified the people who carried out the demolition. The buried bodies is yet to be recovered.

Some internet users criticised local media for not sufficiently covering the demolition, which only received widespread attention when it was picked up by CCTV.

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