Disasters & Accidents

14 Dead in Brazil building collapse

Paulista, Brazil, Jul 8 (EFE).- Search-and-rescue efforts at the scene of a collapsed residential building in this northeastern Brazilian city came to an end Saturday after three additional bodies were pulled from the rubble, bringing the final death toll to 14.

Seven of the 21 people who were inside the Leme apartment building and a neighboring structure at the time of Friday’s accident survived, authorities said.

Members of the fire department serving Paulista, a city in Pernambuco state that is part of the Recife Metropolitan Area, recovered on Saturday the bodies of the three people still listed as missing: a mother and her two sons who were found clinging to one another.

The state government identified the fatalities as four adult women, four men, and six minors.

An 18-year-old man who was pulled from the rubble alive died on the way to the hospital.

Rescue work continued on Saturday with the support of trained dogs and teams removing debris from the 16-unit apartment block that collapsed and the one next to it, which was partially destroyed.

On Friday, three women were rescued alive and taken to a local hospital with fractures, while four other people residing in an adjoining property, had minor injuries.

The collapse occurred amid heavy rains over the past two weeks that had led to a state of alert being issued for the Recife metro region.

On Friday, those storms and downpours triggered landslides and flooding, felled trees and posts and caused several traffic accidents.

The building, part of the Beira-Mar low-income housing complex, had been closed by a 2010 court order that had warned the structure was unsafe.

But two years later, its owners began using the building as housing once again without authorization.

Firefighters in 2018 had recommended that the building be vacated after conducting an inspection.

On Thursday, a day before the tragedy, an insurer connected with the state bank that financed the apartments also warned that it was unsafe for human habitation.

In April, six people died when another residential building collapsed in the nearby city of Olinda, also part of the Recife metro area.

In that incident, a three-story structure for which an eviction order had also been issued collapsed in the low-income Jardim Atlantico neighborhood. EFE wgm/ks/dr

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