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26-story building in Brazil collapses after massive blaze

26-story building in Brazil collapses after massive blaze

26-story building in Brazil collapses after massive blaze

The cause of the fire was unknown and there could be more victims, Elias said.

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

Firefighters said at least one person died and at least three more were missing in the collapsed building, the former headquarters of Brazil's federal police.

There have been unconfirmed reports that there were people on the top floors when the building collapsed.

This photo released by the Sao Paulo Fire Department, shows debris of a building that was engulfed by a fire and collapsed, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, May 1, 2018. As firefighters worked to contain the flames, chunks of fiery debris rained down.

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The dramatic blaze, which resulted in the building's partial collapse, started at 1:36 a.m. local time (12.36 a.m. ET), according to a Sao Paulo Fire Department spokesman. Local media on Tuesday reported that only around 50 were now living there. Flábio Gabia, a receptionist at a nearby hotel, told local newspaper Estadao: "When I went to see what it was, the streets, which were deserted, were filled with desperate people".

The fire began overnight and spread rapidly, turning the building into an inferno before it fell down.

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.

The city and state governments have for years sought to remove squatters in a bid to clean up and revitalize the center of Latin America's most populous city. The government estimates that almost 4,000 families are living in vacant buildings downtown. Fair-housing activists, on the other hand, argue that the area could offer affordable housing to tens of thousands of people.

Officials say it will take days to clear the fire debris.

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