In the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Brazil, a condemned apartment building that was occupied by homeless people collapsed, resulting in the death of 14 individuals, including six children. The incident took place in Recife’s Paulista suburb during the early hours of Friday. Following the collapse, rescue teams embarked on a frantic search for victims amidst the rubble.
Equipped with the assistance of sniffer dogs, searchers diligently combed through the debris. Their efforts paid off as they successfully rescued two 15-year-old girls and a 65-year-old woman who were still alive. Additionally, an 18-year-old man was initially saved but tragically succumbed to his injuries shortly after.
Once the search and rescue operation concluded, the focus shifted towards the removal of animals trapped within the wreckage. The local fire department and other relevant authorities mobilized to ensure the safety and well-being of these creatures.
While the building had been deemed uninhabitable since 2010, it had become home to homeless individuals. The Paulista city hall expressed their disapproval regarding the situation, referring to the structure as a “coffin block.” This name was given to buildings constructed on a large scale in the 1970s in the metropolitan region of Recife.
Furthermore, the city hall emphasized that the occupation of officially closed buildings in Paulista has become a chronic issue. During a recent visit by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who hails from the northeastern state, city officials took the opportunity to raise this concern.
Tragically, this collapse in Paulista marks the second incident of its kind within the span of three months in Pernambuco. In neighboring Olinda, a building disintegrated in April, resulting in a minimum of five deaths. The recurrence of such incidents highlights the urgent need for improved infrastructure safety measures in the state.
Prior to the collapse, the Recife region had experienced heavy rainfall, prompting the water and climate agency of Pernambuco to issue an alert for the metropolitan area. It is plausible that these unfavorable weather conditions may have contributed to the structural instability of the building.
In response to this devastating event, a Presbyterian church located near the site of the collapsed building extended its support to affected families. The church offered temporary housing assistance, while also collecting donations of essential items such as food, clothes, mattresses, water, and hygiene products.
The incident in Paulista serves as a somber reminder of the dire circumstances faced by homeless individuals in Brazil. It highlights the critical need for improved housing and support systems to prevent the unnecessary loss of life in the future. Authorities must prioritize the inspection and maintenance of condemned buildings to avoid further tragedies.