BRAZIL- An explosion in Rio de Janeiro has caused two high-rise buildings to suddenly collapse covering the surrounding area in debris and dust.
There were unconfirmed reports of at least 11 fatalities and five people injured in the incident which happened in the historic Centro neighbourhood around 8.30pm on Wednesday leaving debris and rubble strewn across cars and surrounding streets.
Witnesses reported a strong smell of gas followed by a huge explosion shortly before the collapse.
Light, the electricity distribution company serving the city, cut power to the area to avoid the possibility of fires if gas was detected.
Mayor Eduardo Paes confirmed that two commercial office blocks, one of ten and one of twenty storeys, had fallen on top of a shop but would not confirm reports of two bodies having been recovered and five further victims taken to hospital with serious injuries. At least eight people are still missing.
The incident comes months after an explosion, apparently caused by a gas leak, ripped through a restaurant in downtown Rio, killing three people and highlighting concerns over the authorities’ abilities to improve the city’s infrastructure amid preparations to host the football World Cup and the Olympics.