Three buildings – one twenty storeys high – have collapsed in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, killing at least five people and injuring many others.
The collapse occurred late on Wednesday (Rio time), near the municipal theatre on the city’s Cinelandia square. The tallest of the buildings was twenty storeys high, says the city’s mayor Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, whilst the second tallest had ten floors and the third had three or four.
Though the cause of the crash remains unknown, police spokesman Rodrigo Pimentel told reporters that illegal work had been carried out in the tallest of the buildings, and that this may have affected the structure of the building.
Pimentel also said that construction material was stored inside the building and that this may have affected its structure.
“The break-up occurred suddenly, without any sign of cracks” Pimentel said.
The tallest building had housed several law offices, and construction work had been done on two separate floors.
The latest developments come as Rio remains under worldwide scrutiny in the lead up to host the World Cup soccer in 2014 and the 2016 Summer Olympics. There have long been concerns about the city’s preparedness for the event following persistent reports about construction delays as the city races to build twelve new stadiums for the event.
The latest events also have local residents worried about how dangerous buildings in the city might be.
“It’s incredible, even frightening, now we have to see if the other buildings are safe,” Pablo Antonio Sousa Silva, a 49-year-old street vendor was quoted as saying in Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper.
Though the current body count found by rescuers stands at five, Paes says putting a final, definitive number on the victims is not possible at this stage.