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Burning building collapses in Sao Paulo, at least 1 killed

Sao Paulo fire

At least one person died and three others were missing, authorities said.

An adjacent building also caught fire, but was evacuated and no one was injured.

There have been unconfirmed reports that there were people on the top floors when the building collapsed.

Suddenly, the structure collapsed and the man disappeared into the rubble.

The cause of the fire was not known.

The building is reported to be the former headquarters of the Federal Police, however it's been empty for several years and was recently occupied by groups of squatters.

Firefighter Lieutenant Andre Elias told Brazilian news channel Globo TV that emergency personnel expected to find victims, but were unsure exactly how many to expect.

According to the information provided by the Sao Paulo Fire Service, at least 160 personnel and 57 units of equipment were involved in the operation.

Footage of the collapse was posted to social media, showing debris raining down on the surrounding buildings and streets.

Sao Paulo state Governor Marcio Franca told the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper that it was legally hard to remove squatters.

The building was one of some 150 abandoned properties occupied by squatters in the center of the metropolis of more than 20 million people. Firefighters set up a perimeter and worked to evacuate people.

"At first I thought it was a fight but then I heard people shouting 'get out, get out!'" he said. "This was a tragedy foretold".

Temer, a deeply unpopular president due to various corruption scandals and attempts to reduce Brazil's relatively expansive welfare net, left the scene quickly amid jeers from some of the displaced residents.