Building in Sao Paulo collapses during fire, victims unknown

Sao Paulo: A burning building in downtown Sao Paulo has collapsed as firefighters worked to put out a fire that began in the middle of the night.

Firefighters at first said they believed there were no victims, via the brigade's official Twitter account. Later the brigade posted that one person was seen asking for help from the top floor.

It said 57 trucks and 160 firefighters were attending the blaze.

Globo TV, which was covering the fire, captured the collapse. Images show the multi-storey building falling on itself as flames rage. Debris could be seen smashing into the ground and occupying surrounding streets.

Local media outlets reported that the building in Largo do Paissandu, an old part of downtown, was formally a headquarters for the federal police but had been abandoned for many years and was frequently occupied by squatters.

The fire spread to a neighbouring 26-storey building but it was evacuated and the fire brought under control, according to O Globo website.

The publication cited firefighters saying at least one person was confirmed dead while three others were missing.

It said officials were on site gathering information on 50 families believed to be residents of the tower that collapsed.

Firefighter Lieutenant Andre Elias told Globo TV that the brigade expected to find victims but did not know how many. It wasn't clear how many people were inside when the fire began around 1:20am local time.

More to come

AP

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