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A hotel collapse in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou has claimed the lives of seventeen people.

Rescue crews discovered 23 persons buried in the rubble after 36 hours of searching, six of whom were still alive.

According to the Global Times, a preliminary investigation determined that the owner altered the structure of the building, which caused the collapse. The structure has reportedly undergone numerous restorations in recent years.

“The building used to have only three floors, but over the years they have been adding extra floors,” one local resident informed a news organization

An investigation team was investigating into the accident, according to the Jiangsu Provincial Government, and “relevant individuals” would face criminal penalties. The Siji Kaiyuan Hotel in Suzhou collapsed around 15:33 local time on Monday afternoon (07:33 GMT). More than 600 emergency personnel were dispatched to the location.

Suzhou: Hotel collapse kills 17 people and injures five more.

There were initially believed to be 18 people in the 54-room hotel at the time of the collapse, but it was later revealed there were five unregistered guests inside. Out of the six people found alive, five are said to be injured but in stable condition. One person suffered no injuries.

Poor construction work has been connected to building collapses in China in the past.

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