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Brazil fire: São Paulo building collapses in huge blaze

Brazil fire: São Paulo building collapses in huge blaze

The BBC adds that at least one person has died in the fire.

The fire of the building had spread to an adjacent one which had already been evacuated.

It is not clear how many people were in the building at the time but 50 families are registered as living there, according to local media.

Suddenly, the structure collapsed and the man disappeared into the rubble. It was regularly occupied by squatters, and it is possible that groups of homeless people were using the building when the fire broke out.

The building used to house the Brazilian federal police, but had been abandoned for years.

Frederick Ludwig, a pastor at a nearby church, said he had been warning authorities for years about the appalling conditions for people living in inside the building.

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Firefighter Andre Elias told Globo TV that they expected to find more victims but did not know how many.

Firefighters stand outside a building that collapsed Tuesday after a fire in downtown Sao Paulo.

Sao Paulo state Governor Marcio Franca told the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper that it was legally hard to remove squatters. The building, in the Largo do Paissandu area, was apparently occupied illegally, according to the São Paulo newspaper Estadão. As firefighters worked to contain the flames, chunks of fiery debris rained down.

"At first I thought it was a fight but then I heard people shouting 'get out, get out!'" he said.

Temer, a deeply unpopular president due to various corruption scandals and attempts to reduce Brazil's relatively expansive welfare net, left the scene quickly amid jeers from some of the displaced residents.

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