At least six people were killed and 28 remain trapped after the collapse of a hotel that was being used to quarantine people under observation for the coronavirus in the Chinese city of Quanzhou, authorities said on Sunday.
More than 70 people were believed to have been initially trapped in the seven storey building, which collapsed on Saturday evening.
As of 10:30am Beijing time on Sunday, authorities had rescued 43 people, with 36 of them sent to hospital, the Ministry of Emergency Management said.
Pictures from the site showed rescue workers clad in hard hats, googles and face masks carrying injured people away to waiting medical staff in white overalls and surgical masks.
A rescue force of over 1,000 people, including firefighters, police forces, and other emergency responders, arrived at the site on Saturday night, authorities told a media conference organised by the Quanzhou government on Sunday.
Of the 71 people inside the hotel at the time of the collapse, 58 had been under quarantine, they added.
According to state media outlet Xinhua, the owner of the building, a man surnamed Yang, has been summoned by police.
The building’s first floor had been under renovation at the time of the collapse, the news agency said.
News of the collapse comes as the spread of COVID-19 continues to slow in China.
According to data from China’s National Health Commission (NHC), cases fell by roughly one half on Saturday from the day prior.
The agency confirmed 44 new cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus as at the end of March 7, a decline from 99 the previous day.
Chinese cities are gradually relaxing quarantine measures put in place over a month ago, while authorities keep a close watch on the virus’ spread overseas.
Of the 44 new confirmed cases, 41 were discovered in Wuhan, the origin of the virus’ outbreak and its hotbed.
The remaining three were cases imported from outside mainland China.
This marks the second consecutive day in which all of China’s newly confirmed cases outside of the city of Wuhan originated from overseas. The three cases bring China’s total imported case count to 63.
According to the Beijing Municipal Health Commission, two of the cases found in Beijing originated in Italy and Spain.
As the virus slows its spread in Wuhan, authorities have reacted by closing hospitals built specifically to house its patients.
After the first such closure last week, on Sunday, CCTV reported that operations at a second hospital had been suspended, with its 25 remaining patients now discharged and declared cured.