By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – More bodies have been recovered from the rubble of Wednesday’s multiple building collapse in the Centro district of Rio de Janeiro, bringing the confirmed death toll to seventeen at the time of writing. Burials of the first victims have already taken place.
Officials say the rescue operation will continue into the weekend, but that they are not expecting any more survivors to be found.
The Red Cross – and other organizations – are on site, giving support to victims’ families and those still waiting for news of loved-ones.
A group of specialist rescue workers from Chile, with experience from the Haiti earthquake disaster in 2010, will brought in today (Saturday).
As the chances of finding anyone else alive dwindle, questions are being asked about the work being carried out on the twenty-story Edifício Liberdade building on Avenida Treze de Maio, in the Cinelândia district of Central Rio.
Officials have pointed to this unregistered, illegal work as the most likely cause of the collapse.
However, Sérgio Alves, partner of TO (Tecnologia Organizacional), the company responsible for the work being carried on the building, said that he was “certain” that the work did not cause the collapse:
“It was an internal improvement; [...] we changed the floor, removed some partitions and bathroom walls, which weren’t structural and were made of bricks,” said Alves on Friday.
But he also admitted that the work, started nine days prior to the collapse, had begun without a technical report or proper design plan in place, as the engineer they wanted to hire had been looking after his sick mother.
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Update is a new feature we are offering to help keep you up-to-date with major news as it happens.