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Death toll rises to 26 following China hotel collapse

Death toll rises to 26 following China hotel collapse
A total of 26 people have died following the collapse of a hotel in Quanzhou, China, according to Chinese authorities. Photo by Xiao Fan/EPA-EFE

March 11 (UPI) -- Chinese authorities say a total of 26 people have died following the collapse of a hotel on Saturday that was being used as a coronavirus quarantine facility in southern China.

Chinese state-owned news agency Xinhua reported Wednesday the collapse of the six-story Xinjia Express Hotel in Fujian Province has led to 26 deaths.

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On Sunday authorities had reported at least 10 people were dead and that 23 people were "missing," according to the BBC.

Chinese authorities had also said 71 people were in the building at the time of accident on Saturday, and dozens had been rescued.

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On Wednesday, Xinhua said more were "found dead at the scene of the accident, or were severely injured at the time of rescue and eventually died."

State media previously claimed 58 out of the 71 people occupying the building at the time of the accident were under quarantine.

The hotel in the Chinese city of Quanzhou was a relatively new building, which opened in 2018. It included 80 guest rooms. Quanzhou has reported 47 cases of the virus, and is located about 620 miles from Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in China.

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Fire department authorities in Quanzhou blamed local builders for the collapse, according to Chinese state media.

The hotel was described as an "illegal structure" that has "violated safety regulations several times," a fire department authority said.

Shoddy "tofu" construction in China has often been blamed for deadly accidents, including that of more than 5,000 schoolchildren during the Sichuan earthquake of 2008. Corruption among officials has previously been cited in building accidents.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the quarantined city of Wuhan on Tuesday for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak. Chinese authorities have said the epidemic has slowed in the area. Airports in Hubei Province are also preparing to reopen by Thursday, according to the South China Morning Post.

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