High rise blaze

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire at a building in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

SAO PAULO – A 22-storey abandoned office building occupied by hundreds of squatters was engulfed in flames and collapsed in the centre of Sao Paulo early Tuesday, shooting a massive
black cloud of smoke into the sky and red-hot chunks of debris into nearby structures.

At least one person died and three others were missing, a fire department spokesperson said.

According to authorities, 400 people were registered as living in the building which belonged to the government.

The cause of the fire was not known.

Live television images in the early morning hours showed a firefighter on an adjacent rooftop talking to a man clinging to a rescue rope and trying to escape from the upper part of the burning building.

Suddenly, the structure collapsed and the man disappeared into the rubble. Authorities said he likely died, but were searching for him.

In the afternoon, firefighters continued searching for additional victims amid concrete chunks and twisted metal pipes.

More Stories