Brazil highrise collapses after catching fire, leaving at least 1 dead

Blazing skyscraper collapses in Sao Paulo

Blazing skyscraper collapses in Sao Paulo

The fire, which is now under control, began at around 1:30am local time, a Sao Paulo Fire Department spokesman said.

Firefighter Lt. Andre Elias told Globo TV that at least one person had been killed.

The city and state governments have been working for years to forcibly remove squatters from buildings in central São Paulo, with plans for revitalising the area.

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The dramatic fire broke out on the fifth floor of the 26-story building, which collapsed in a fireball an hour and a half later, according to the Brazilian Civil Defense.

Local media outlets reported that the building was a headquarters for the federal police but had been abandoned for many years and was frequently occupied by squatters. Firefighters set up a perimeter and worked to evacuate people. Witnesses heard someone calling for help on an upper floor when the building collapsed. Several other nearby buildings were evacuated and surrounding roads closed.

The fire began overnight and spread rapidly, turning the building into an inferno.

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Officials say it will take days to clear the debris. "People live there in desperation".

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.

Former Sao Paulo Mayor Joao Doria aggressively cracked down on these communities.

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President Michel Temer, who is Brazil's most unpopular leader on record, with single-digit approval ratings, got a hostile reception when he briefly visited the scene. He had envisioned a revitalized downtown, a glitzy showcase for one of the hemisphere's most important financial centers. "I patted the mattresses, saw no one was at home anymore, then I went down behind them shouting their names to see if they had gone down".

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