Burning Skyscraper Collapsed in Sao Paulo

An abandoned 26-story building in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, caught fire and collapsed early Tuesday, showering the surrounding streets with fiery embers and killing at least one person, firefighters said.

The collapsed building, once a police facility, was inhabited intermittently by squatters several years ago.

More than 150 firefighters are battling the blaze, which caused the building to crumble around 2:30 local time (5:30 GMT).

One person has been confirmed dead and three more are missing after screams for help were heard from the top floor of the building in Sao Paulo.

A neighbouring building was evacuated as the flames spread and the area has been sealed off by police. According to authorities, 400 people were registered as living in the building, which belonged to the government.

"It was a matter of seconds but we couldn't save him", firefighter Max Mena said.

Another neighbour told Folha: "It felt like a tsunami when the building came down".

A nearby hotel has been evacuated.

He added: "There is not even a minimal condition for people to live in there". The high-rise collapsed 90 minutes later.

According to the information provided by the Sao Paulo Fire Service, at least 160 personnel and 57 units of equipment were involved in the operation.

"That type of home is uninhabitable, staying there is looking for trouble", he said speaking at the site of the blaze.

De Souza said that residents believed the fire could have been started by a gas leak. Firefighters continued trying to fully extinguish the flames amid the debris of concrete chunks and twisted metal pipes.

  • Joey Payne