At least 10 people were killed following the collapse of a hotel used as a coronavirus quarantine facility in eastern China, the Ministry of Emergency Management said Sunday.
Rescuers have also retrieved 48 survivors from the rubble, with five in critical or serious condition, out of 71 initially trapped, the ministry said.
The coastal city of Quanzhou has recorded 47 cases of the Covid-19 infection and the hotel had been repurposed to house people who had been in recent contact with confirmed patients, the People’s Daily state newspaper reported.
Footage circulating on Twitter-like Weibo showed rescue workers searching the ruins of the Xinjia hotel in the dark as they reassured a woman trapped under heavy debris and carried wounded victims to ambulances.
Other footage published by local media, purportedly from security cameras across the street, showed the entire hotel collapsing in seconds.
State broadcaster CCTV had earlier reported 48 people had been rescued out of 67 initially trapped when the hotel – which opened two years ago – collapsed.
The building’s first floor has been undergoing renovation since before the Lunar New Year, and construction workers called the hotel’s owner minutes before the collapse to report a deformed pillar, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The building’s owner has been summoned by police, according to Xinhua.
Meanwhile, North Korea has released more than 3,600 people quarantined over the coronavirus, reports said Sunday.
Pyongyang has imposed strict restrictions and closed its borders to try to prevent an outbreak – and insists it has not had a single case of Covid-19.
Around 3,650 people quarantined in Kangwon and Chagang provinces were released as of Thursday, North Korea’s state radio reported according to Yonhap news agency.
It follows official KCNA news agency stating on Friday 221 out of 380 foreigners who were under “strict medical monitoring” had been discharged from isolation.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned last month of “serious consequences” if the virus reaches his country, which has banned tourists and suspended international trains and flights.
Pyongyang, subject to multiple international sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, has a weak medical infrastructure and analysts say prevention is its only option.
Kim sent a personal letter to President Moon Jae-in on Thursday to “comfort” South Koreans fighting the coronavirus outbreak raging in the country.
South Korea – which reported 93 new cases on Sunday – has the largest number of cases in the world outside China with 7,134.
Two more people died, bringing the death toll to 50, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of coronavirus cases has risen worldwide to more than 100,000, with 3,500 dead across 95 nations and territories.