Tower block collapses in São Paulo after fire

Sao Paulo fire

Though a fire department spokesman told CNN the department did not expect any deaths or injuries, local newspaper Estadão said at least one person had died and others were thought to be still trapped in the rubble.

São Paulo, Brazil's vibrant financial center, is among the world's most populous cities, with numerous cultural institutions and a rich architectural tradition.

The abandoned former office building had 22 stories, according to the fire department and not 26 stories as reported by some media. Media reports differ on the actual number of residents of the building, the number of which could have been up to 100 people, others say up to 50 families were registered to live. That blaze was brought under control relatively quickly, São Paulo Fire Brigade Lieutenant André Elias told Globo TV.

A neighbouring building was evacuated, shortly before it caught fire.

Fire took hold of the building in the early hours of Tuesday.

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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.

Poor families often squat in disused buildings or set up tents and shacks on vacant land, sometimes next to wealthy areas.

"I was unsure if my son had taken my youngest daughter", Antonio, 48, told AFP.

São Paulo governor, Marcio França, went to the site early Tuesday morning and told a TV news crew that these buildings are hazardous to live in. "The state is acting as if us, the occupiers, us, from the movements, are responsible for this". He did not provide details and was whisked away by security as several people shouted obscenities at him.

The fire highlights the perils of Sao Paulo's affordable housing crisis. It was not clear what started the fire.

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