RIO DE JANEIRO – The death toll from the collapse on Friday of a pair of four-story residential buildings in a militia-controlled neighborhood of this southeastern Brazilian metropolis has reached five, authorities said.
Ten other people were injured and a dozen residents remained unaccounted for.
In addition to two people who died at site of the collapses, a third male victim who had been pulled out of the rubble succumbed to his injuries hours later at the Unimed-Rio Hospital, the Rio de Janeiro mayor’s office said.
Two more bodies were pulled from the rubble late Friday, while first responders were trying to extract a child they found alive.
Rio de Janeiro Fire Department officials said local residents had told them that more than 10 other people were buried under the wreckage of the two buildings located in Muzema, a neighborhood on Rio’s west side.
Authorities cordoned off the area due to the risk that other nearby residential buildings may collapse and to facilitate the work of firefighters and other rescue workers.
The Rio mayor’s office said that nearly 60 buildings in that area were built “irregularly” at locations considered at “high risk of collapse.”
Muzema, a neighborhood controlled by armed militias who have prevented shoddy buildings from being demolished, was one of the parts of Rio de Janeiro hardest hit by torrential rains this week that left at least 10 dead and dozens injured.
Area residents say the militias – criminal organizations made up of corrupt current and former police officers that control various parts of this metropolis of nearly 7 million people – seize plots of land in Muzema and build residences that they subsequently sell illegally.
According to the Rio de Janeiro state government, the torrential rains in recent days forced at least 1,200 people from their homes.
At least 2,000 people have received emergency attention in recent days due to the heavy rains, flash floods, fallen trees and mudslides
A state of crisis has been declared in Rio de Janeiro, the highest of the city’s three-level scale.