Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil building collapse: Race on to find the missing

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Media captionWatch how rescue workers are trying to reach those trapped

Rescue workers are working against the clock to find eight residents who are missing after their apartment block collapsed in the city of Fortaleza in north-eastern Brazil.

One man died when the the seven-storey building crumbled on Tuesday.

Nine people have been rescued alive but another eight who are believed to have been inside when the collapse happened are still unaccounted for.

Officials said the block had been built without the necessary permits.

'Selfie' from the rubble

The building in Dionísio Torres, an upscale neighbourhood of Fortaleza in Ceará state, collapsed at 10:28 local time (13:30 GMT).

Newspaper Diário do Nordeste tweeted footage of the moments just after the collapse showing dust rising from the rubble.

A small grocery store next to the building was damaged in the collapse and a man delivering water to the shop, 30-year-old Frederick Santana dos Santos, was killed.

Another delivery man, 34-year-old Antônio Gomes Marcelino, managed to get out of the shop alive.

Of the 18 residents who were inside the apartment block's 13 flats, nine have been rescued alive.

One of them, architecture student Davi Sampaio, had sent his family a "selfie" on WhatsApp in which he was smiling and giving a thumbs-up to the camera after the collapse to show that he was alive and well.

He told a friend that he had only suffered some scratches. A puppy was also pulled from the rubble alive.

Rescue workers are using sniffer dogs to search for the eight residents who are still missing.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Rescue workers have so far found nine survivors underneath the rubble

Three Red Cross workers were injured in the search but doctors said they were not in a serious condition.

The cause for the collapse of the apartment block, which was built in 1995, is not yet clear.

Building collapses such as this one are not uncommon in Brazil.

Eight people were killed when the Palace II tower block collapsed in Rio de Janeiro in 1998 due to an engineering error. In 2012, 17 people died when three buildings crumbled also in Rio de Janeiro.

And last year, a 26-storey building occupied by squatters fell down after it had been engulfed in flames in São Paulo, killing seven.

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