Three buildings in the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro have collapsed with reports suggesting that up to eleven people may have been killed. The three towers - one ten storeys high, one twenty storeys, and three or four storeys - fell at approximately 8pm on Wednesday, taking out a bank and restaurant, and coating the street below in a cloud of dust and debris. The buildings once stood next to the treasured Municipal Theatre.
Electricity has been switched off in the street to lower the risk of fire and an unconfirmed five people have reportedly been transferred to hospital with injuries. There are also allegations that a number of homeless people were sheltering beneath one of the buildings before they crumbled. Firefighters are currently picking through the debris to find those reported missing.
This news comes shortly after the collapse of a restaurant in downtown Rio due to a natural gas leak and whilst witnesses at yesterday’s collapse reported smelling gas before the buildings came down, Mayor Eduardo Paes has determined: “The possibility of a gas leak is very small. We don’t know the cause, but it must have been structural damage and not an explosion. As we get more information we’ll pass it on.”
Despite the commercial nature of two towers, fears have now begun to grow about the structural security of Brazil’s infrastructure ahead of the Football World Cup in 2014 and 2016 Olympics. It is thought $7bn of investment in infrastructure will be necessary before Brazil is ready to host these prestigious events.