By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Emergency services and rescue workers have started finding bodies in the remains of the three buildings which collapsed last night in the Cinelândia area of Centro in Rio de Janeiro. As of 1:30 PM on Wednesday, three people are confirmed dead, and at least fifteen people are still missing.

An aerial view of collapse site in the Centro of Rio de Janeiro as rescuer workers search the debris, Brazil News
An aerial view of collapse site in the Centro of Rio de Janeiro as rescue workers search the debris, image recreation.

Six people have been taken to hospital after receiving “light injuries”.

The area around the Theatro Municipal (Municipal Theater) on Avenida Treze de Maio is still cordoned off as over sixty rescuers, some using heavy-lifting machinery, pick their way through the debris in a desperate, ongoing search for survivors.

At the time of the collapse at 8:30PM last night, eyewitnesses had spoken of a loud explosion and a smell natural gas in the air – which might have pointed to a leak.

But officials and specialists have dismissed this hypothesis of a gas leak and now say structural problems with at least one of the buildings are likely to have been behind the tragedy.

O Globo newspaper is reporting that work on the twenty-story building was not registered with the Regional Engineering and Architecture Council (CREA).

It says that the removal of a piece of scaffolding might be the cause of the collapse, which subsequently toppled the two neighboring buildings.

Traffic in central Rio is extremely difficult, and motorists are being urged not to go into Centro if at all possible.

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.


  1. How can this happen, are the construction codes not developed enough to protect the city from this kind of situation?

  2. I’m afraid that is what happens when people are being paid R$622/month in minimum wage… very sad and unfortunate for the people lost. Hopefully Brazil can distribute its new wealth in a way to avoid this type of tragedy… and soon!

  3. The problem isn’t the worker’s pay. If you gave the same worker 4 times the pay he wouldn’t magically have more skill or better work ethic. The problem really is not the lack of redistribution of wealth. Don’t use their tragedy to spread your political message while at the same time insulting the laborers work. They probably built exactly to specifications. I don’t know what the building codes are like down there, but if there are any, they are not enforced- I lived in Rio and saw some crazy dangerous buildings and homes.

  4. It’s not about how much or how little people are paid. It’s about building & construction management. If the construction company didn’t obtain prior approval from the local authorities to undertake the work, which should have had a detailed planning submission made to the Prefeitura, then the building owners/management should not have allowed them to commence. No planning authority = no work ! Where are the government regulators on this front? Where do the insurance companies stand on public liability in regard to this? It appears to me that every apartment owner can make changes to their apartments/offices (in high rise buildings) knock out or make changes to structural supporting walls all with no prior authority! Where are the engineers? Where are the authorities who inspect this work as it progresses. Hammer & chisel mentality ! Let’s hope the authorities are on the ball with the sports stadiums for the Cup & Games !!

  5. is brazil a capitalist economie, do they have a private sector? do they have a free market? if yes, than the salaries are what workers negotiate!


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