3 buildings in Rio de Janeiro collapse
Rio de Janeiro - Three multi-storey buildings collapsed late on Wednesday in
downtown Rio de Janeiro, leaving at least five people injured and an unknown
number buried in the rubble, the city's mayor said.
"Three buildings collapsed, a twenty-storey building, a 10-storey
building and a smaller building of three or four floors," Mayor Eduardo
Paes told reporters, updating a previous estimate of the damage.
"Giving a total number of victims would be pure speculation," he
Health Secretary Sousa Aguiar said five people had been lightly wounded and
were at a hospital under observation, adding that the buildings would have been
largely deserted at the time of night when the collapse occurred.
Television network Globo News, citing civil defence officials, reported
"11 casualties - dead and injured" in the incident, which took place
near the municipal theatre on the city's historic Cinelandia square.
The historic district is bustling by day but nearly deserted at night.
Witnesses reported hearing an explosion in the area. Paes said the cause of
the collapses was not yet known, but that it was likely "structural
A mountain of rubble filled the street, while thick dust covered the cars
nearby. The building housed several law offices, and construction work was
being carried out on two separate floors.
Dozens of firefighters and emergency personnel rushed to the scene, and Paes
said they would comb the rubble with search dogs through the night.
A bank branch and a restaurant were located on the first floor of one of the
collapsed buildings, but it was not immediately clear if the two businesses
were open at the time of the incident.