By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Firefighters in São Paulo city continue to dig through the rubble, looking for possible victims of Tuesday morning’s fire which brought down a twenty-four-story high rise in the center of town. According to officials there are 44 persons still unaccounted for, who may be trapped beneath the debris.
One is believed to have died while trying to be rescued. The search, according to Marcus Palumbo, spokesperson for the São Paulo Firefighters, is done manually to ensure that if there are any survivors in air pockets underneath the tons of concrete they may be pulled out before the heavy machinery is used.
“[The 48-hour deadline] is a deadline set by international bodies, so that we do not hamper with the possibility of [rescuing] a victim there. We cannot remove the debris randomly,” he said during a press conference on Tuesday.
According to officials the removal of the rubble should last at least a week. Firefighters hope to be able to retrieve the body of a man who was being pulled out of the building by a rope, when the building collapsed.
Due to the tragedy, São Paulo city officials now say they will start to inspect the more than seventy buildings occupied by the homeless in the center of the city. According to São Paulo Mayor, Bruno Covas, there are approximately four thousand families living in such dwellings in the city.
The city’s goal is to inspect the abandoned buildings now used by the homeless in the next 45 days, and assert whether they present risks.
In this time the Civil Defense will inspect about seventy buildings occupied in the center of the city of São Paulo, which shelter approximately 4,000 families, according to Mayor Bruno Covas. The statement was given at a press conference after the fire
The goal is to identify whether occupied buildings present risks. From the surveys, Covas said that the city will define what to do in these places.
“We have seventy buildings in a similar situation,” said Mayor Covas during a press conference on Tuesday, “So we want to make the inspections to see where we need to act in the very short term so that tragedies like this do not happen [again].”
Currently, the city faces a deficit of over 360,000 housing units, according to the mayor.