SAO PAULO – Brazilian rescue teams recovered on Tuesday the second body from the rubble of a building that collapsed last week after being engulfed in flames.
The Sao Paulo fire department also increased the number of missing people to seven, including 9-year-old twins Welder and Wender.
The body recovered Tuesday was found at the center of the rubble heap and was purportedly on the seventh floor.
With the help of a rescue dog, authorities found the body at 6:30 am after hours of manually clearing debris.
The first victim, found last Friday, was identified as Ricardo Oliveira, a 39-year-old man who was close to being rescued before the building crashed down.
The fire department said that rescue efforts would be redoubled Tuesday as there were signs that other victims could be close to the surface.
The possibilities of finding someone alive, however, are “decreasing by the hour,” Lt. Guilherme Derrite said.
“As more time passes, it will become harder to find people who are still alive. We are now carrying out a meticulous and surgical operation in the area where we found those bodies,” he added.
The Wilton Paes de Almeida building was a 24-storey high rise built in the 1960s that housed the headquarters of the Federal Police in Sao Paulo for close to two decades, although during the last few years it was occupied by squatters, including at least 50 homeless families.
The structure caught fire due to a short-circuit in a wall socket, according to Public Safety Secretary Magino Alves.
The fire spread to two adjacent buildings and caused the high rise’s collapse, which then led to the partial collapse of an adjacent church.
Most of the affected families have been placed in municipal shelters and will receive 1,200 reais ($340) in monetary assistance during the first month and 400 reais ($113) during the next 12 months.