20 jailed for China quarantine hotel collapse

BEIJING, Oct 19 (AFP): China jailed 20 people for corruption over their role in the deadly collapse of a quarantine hotel last year, prompting online outrage on Tuesday over poor building standards in the country.

Twenty-nine people died and 50 were injured when the Xinjia Hotel in southern China's Quanzhou city caved in last March.

At the time, the 66-room hotel was housing dozens of people who had been ordered to quarantine after recently travelling to Covid-hit regions as part of China's strict measures to contain the virus.

An official probe later found three floors had been illegally added to the originally four-storey structure, and safety auditors had collaborated with the hotel's owner to create false reports about the building.

Hotel proprietor Yang Jinqiang has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for causing a serious accident, forging official documents and offering bribes, a Quanzhou court said in an online statement dated Sunday.

Twelve other people received jail terms between two and a half years and 13 years for similar offences.

Additionally, seven public officials were handed jail time ranging from two years and over six years for crimes including bribe-taking and dereliction of duty.

Social media users on Tuesday slammed China's prevalence of poorly constructed buildings that are known to collapse with relative frequency.

"These 'tofu-dreg' projects harmed other people, but ultimately they also harmed those who built them," wrote one commenter on China's Weibo platform, using a byword for shoddy constructions.

Another said the officials should have received harsher sentences for causing deaths.

More than fifty million people had viewed threads on the topic by Tuesday evening.

Building collapses or accidents are not uncommon in China, often due to lax construction standards or corruption.

In July, the collapse of a budget hotel in the eastern city of Suzhou claimed the lives of 17 people. - AFP

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