Sao Paulo tower used by squatters collapses in fire

Sao Paulo fire

A burning building in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, collapsed early Tuesday morning as firefighters worked to put out a blaze that began in the middle of the night.

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

At least one person died and three others were missing, authorities said.

A 26-storey building has collapsed after being engulfed in flames in Brazil's largest city, São Paulo.

The cause of the fire is now unknown, according to the spokesman, who added that he does not know the total number of floors in the building due to the partial collapse.

While last summer AP reports showed 350 families living in this abandoned police headquarters, local media reports that number had dwindled to near 50.

The fire passed on to the neighboring building, but there is no threat of its collapse. A firefighter told Globo TV that they expected to find victims but did not know how many.

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With the collapse of the building part of a nearby church also was destroyed.

The governor said it was legally hard to force people to evacuate the old and decaying buildings. Witnesses heard someone calling for help on an upper floor when the building collapsed.

Officials say it will take days to clear the debris.

Brazilian President Michel Temer visited the ruins early Tuesday morning, but rushed away after victims began throwing rocks and debris at his vehicle.

Former Sao Paulo mayor Joao Doria, who recently stepped down to run for governor, cracked down on squatter communities as a plan to revitalize the downtown.

He had envisioned a revitalised downtown, a glitzy showcase for an important financial centres. He did not provide details and was whisked away by security as several people shouted obscenities at him.

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