At least one killed in São Paulo tower block collapse

Globo News

Globo News

"We don't know how many people were in the building so we don't know whether we'll find more victims in the ruins".

The building, a former headquarters of the federal police, caught fire around 1:30 a.m. local time.

Despite an earlier message posted onto the department's official Twitter account suggesting that one person had been spotted calling for help on the building's upper floors, the spokesman says the department does not expect any deaths or injuries.

An abandoned building engulfed in flames in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The high-rise had been occupied by squatters, and firefighters fear more people may have been trapped inside.

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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Evacuees told the police that part of the building's inhabitants managed to escape on time.

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

"There was no security, there were not adequate electrical installations, there were no safe staircases, there were piles of rubbish - there was everything you need to start a major fire", he said.

The collapse was captured on camera with images showing the multi-story building falling as flames rage. Many such dwellings are run like regular apartment buildings, with doormen and residents paying monthly fees. Highly organised squatters have taken over as many as 70 buildings in the downtown area of South America's largest city.

Brazilian President Michel Temer visited the scene early Tuesday morning, but rushed away after some victims began throwing rocks and debris at his auto. He had envisioned a revitalized downtown, a glitzy showcase for one of the hemisphere's most important financial centers.

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