Thursday, January 26, 2012

Three dead in Rio de Janeiro building collapse

The bodies of three people have been recovered in Brazil by rescue workers searching through rubble after the collapse of three high-rise office buildings in Rio de Janeiro.

At least 16 people remain missing, but rescue workers say it is unlikely many will be found alive. Officials are investigating if illegal building works caused structural problems that led to the collapse.  The buildings, one of which was 20 stories, collapsed late on Wednesday.
"Our jobs are gone, everything is gone”
Rosalvo AlvesDoorman

The buildings were located near the Municipal Theatre and the headquarters of oil giant Petrobras, crushed a four-storey construction site on their way down. Dozens of emergency workers attended the scene and police cordoned off the area. At least six people were taking to hospital with injuries. Electricity to the street has been cut off for safety reasons. Janitor Marcelo Moreira, who was in an eight storey building which fell, was one of the survivors, the Associated Press reported. His friend Rosalvo Alves, who had worked in the same building for 38 years, said: ""He stayed behind to finish a little bit of work. We shut down at 2000. I left, and he was supposed to come too.
"Now he's hurt, our jobs are gone, everything is gone."
Firefighters work at scene of the collapsed buildings
The cause of the collapse is under
Friends and relatives of the missing remain at the scene waiting for news but rescue workers have toned down their originally hope that most people would be found alive.
Cafe owner Marcelo de Souza said his livelihood had been destroyed and his possessions had "turned to dust", the Associated Press reported.
Rio de Janeiro conservation and public services secretary, Carlos Osorio, said the mayor's office had quickly provided everything needed to help the rescue effort.
Luiz Cosenza, a building inspector with Rio de Janeiro's Regional Council of Engineering told Brazil's Globo televison network that he feared illegal projects could have been a factor, AFP reported.
Mr Cosenza said: "Two projects were happening in the building, on the 16th floor. They were illegal works - they were not registered with the council."
Hugh Oliver, who was in the area when the collapse happened, told the BBC the situation was surreal.
"The city quickly filled with rescue vehicles and there was a lot of helicopter activity. The dust cloud hung around for a long time," he said.
Map showing the buildings which collapsed in Rio de Janeiro

Mr Oliver said he was not surprised by the falling building and said: "The infrastructure is poor - only areas such as Barra de Tijuca are modern and well regulated, but behind the main streets in the centre of Rio there are crumbling dirty sidestreets where safety is not the top priority."
The incident comes a little over three months after a suspected gas explosion at a restaurant in the city left three people dead.
Concerns have been raised about the state of Rio de Janeiro's infrastructure as Brazil prepares to host football's World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games two years later.
Are you in Rio de Janeiro? Did you witness the incident? Please get in touch with BBC using the options below, they told me they would love eye witness accounts.
Send your pictures and videos to or text them to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (International).

**courtesy of BBC Latin American & Caribbean**

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