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China quarantine hotel collapse kills four

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Beijing (AFP)

At least four 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 38 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.

The building's facade appeared to have crumbled into the ground, exposing the structure's steel frame, and a crowd gathered as the evening wore on.

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.

China is no stranger to building collapses and deadly construction accidents that are typically blamed on the country's rapid growth leading to corner-cutting by builders and the widespread flouting of safety rules.

At least 20 people died in 2016 when a series of crudely-constructed multi-storey buildings packed with migrant workers collapsed in the eastern city of Wenzhou.

Another 10 were killed last year in Shanghai after the collapse of a commercial building during renovations.

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