SAO PAULO, Brazil (AFP) — A 24-storey building in the center of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city, collapsed early Tuesday after a blaze that rapidly tore through the structure, reportedly killing one person.
Dozens of homeless families were squatting in the building, according to local media. However, so far only one person was reported dead, local media reported.
The Sao Paulo fire department said “we are still not confirming the number of victims.”
The fire began overnight and spread rapidly, turning the building into an inferno.
Dramatic pictures tweeted by the fire service showed flames shooting up the sides of the whole tower, which then collapsed.
Television footage showed damage to an adjacent church.
Fifty-seven vehicles and 160 firefighters were deployed to the scene, the department tweeted.
Sao Paulo is Brazil’s financial capital and the most populous city in Latin America, but suffers huge economic equality, with poor families often squatting in disused buildings or plots of land.
Sao Paulo state Governor Marcio Franca said “it was a tragedy waiting to happen…. This building didn’t have even the minimum conditions for habitation. The state should not have allowed it to be occupied.”