RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A four-storey building collapsed in western Rio de Janeiro before dawn on Thursday, killing at least one infant and one adult, and damaging nearby residences, the city’s fire department said. Four people were rescued from the debris.
The irregular construction consisted of four small homes built atop one another, a spokesperson for the fire department said. City officials confirmed to The Associated Press (AP) in an email that the structure had no licence.
Irregular constructions have long plagued Brazil, which is Latin America’s largest nation. The accident that occurred around 3am in Rio das Pedras, a working-class neighbourhood, underscored the difficulties authorities run into trying to tamp down on illegal constructions in areas run by paramilitary gangs.
Paramilitary groups, commonly referred to as militias in Brazil, made up of former firefighters, police and soldiers, often take control of public land and build illegal housing to rent informally.
Many people choose to live in such residences because they are cheaper.
“With me, militias are not going to build any more crap in this city,” Rio Mayor Eduardo Pães said on Thursday.