Published: Wed, May 02, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

At least one killed after building burns down in Sao Paulo

At least one killed after building burns down in Sao Paulo

More than 170 firefighters are at the scene, along with a civil defence response team and the army.

Firefighters said at least one person died and at least three more were missing in the collapsed building, the former headquarters of Brazil's federal police.

The block was occupied by rough sleepers and a number of people are believed to be trapped in the rubble.

The blaze is understood to have started on the third floor and then spread rapidly to the levels above. Debris could be seen falling into the surrounding streets. That blaze was brought under control relatively quickly, Sao Paulo Fire Brigade Lieutenant André Elias told Globo TV.

At the moment the building fell, a firefighter atop a neighbouring building had been trying to save someone from the upper floors.

The governor said it was legally hard to force people to evacuate the old and decaying buildings.

The fire was in an area known as "Centro", which is Sao Paulo's historic downtown. Local media on Tuesday reported that only around 50 were now living there.

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A neighbouring building was evacuated, shortly before it caught fire. Many such dwellings are run like regular apartment buildings, with doormen and residents paying monthly fees and utility bills.

Officials say it will take days to clear the debris.

São Paulo governor, Marcio França, went to the site early Tuesday morning and told a TV news crew that these buildings are hazardous to live in. "The state should not have allowed it to be occupied".

Doria argued the downtown should be a showcase for South America's largest city, the engine of Brazil's economy and one of the hemisphere's most important financial centres.

Brazilian President Michel Temer visited the ruins early Tuesday morning, but rushed away after victims began throwing rocks and debris at his vehicle. Fair-housing activists had criticized his efforts saying he should focus on creating affordable housing to the tens of thousands who need it.

"I heard several people shouting".

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