FORTAILIAN, BR. (THECOUNT) — A frantic search and rescue mission is underway in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza after a seven story building collapsed into a pile of rubble Tuesday, according to reports.
At least one person has reportedly been killed as rescuers communicate with those trapped in the debris by cell phone and any and all available methods of communication.
Witnesses said they “saw people inside the building” shortly before it collapsed.
The seven story building is said to be located in a luxury area of Brazilian city of Fortaleza.
An image released by Brazilian officials appeared to show a large pile of debris where the seven story building once stood.
Fire department commander Cleyton Bezerra said nine people were missing, though it was unclear if they were under the rubble or just unreachable by relatives and friends. Eight survivors have been found along with the unidentified body, reports BayNews9.
“It is a difficult situation; there are parts (of the building) that can still collapse,” said Bezerra, who led the rescue operation.
Authorities in the city of 2.6 million inhabitants in Brazil’s northeast said two trapped people were communicating with relatives and rescuers by phone.
“For now we are trying to hear sounds that indicate where people are. There are several layers of debris,” said fire department spokesman Romario Fernandes. He said the rescue operation is expected to last days.
It was not immediately clear what caused the building to collapse.
Geo quick facts: Fortaleza is the capital of the northeastern Brazilian state of Ceará. It’s known for its beaches, which are punctuated by red cliffs, palm trees, dunes and lagoons. Fortaleza’s long-standing folkloric traditions are presented in dance performances at the art nouveau José de Alencar theater, open since 1910. Another architectural highlight is the neo-Gothic Catedral Metropolitana – wikipedia.