At least one killed in São Paulo tower block collapse

Blazing skyscraper collapses in Sao Paulo

City authorities had been in negotiation with the group to vacate the building since February, Sao Paulo City Hall said.

The block was occupied by rough sleepers and a number of people are believed to be trapped in the rubble.

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire at a building in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil May 1, 2018. Images showed the floors falling on themselves like dominoes and debris flying in all directions. That blaze was brought under control relatively quickly, São Paulo Fire Brigade Lieutenant André Elias told Globo TV. Firefighters set up a perimeter and worked to evacuate people.

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The fire highlights the perils of Sao Paulo's affordable housing crisis. Local media on Tuesday reported that between 50 and 150 were now living there, underscoring the sometimes fluid nature of such makeshift dwellings.

The fire began overnight and spread rapidly, turning the building into an inferno before it fell down. According to the Associated Press, "many such dwellings are run like regular apartment buildings, with doormen and residents paying monthly fees and utility bills".

Search and rescue operations could take days.

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Firefighters stand outside a building that collapsed Tuesday after a fire in downtown Sao Paulo.

Sao Paulo state Governor Marcio Franca said "it was a tragedy waiting to happen.... The state should not have allowed it to be occupied". The cause of such a dramatic reduction may be because former Sao Paulo Mayor Joao Doria cracked down on squatter communities downtown in a bid to revitalize the area.

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. He did not provide details and was whisked away by security as several people shouted obscenities at him.

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