Rio de Janeiro building collapse


By Shasta Darlington, CNN January 26, 2012 -- Updated 1617 GMT (0017 HKT) Three buildings collapsed in the historic center of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Wednesday January 25, 2012, sending rubble and dust flying through the air.

5 dead, 19 missing in Rio building collapse

Five bodies found so far As many as 19 are still missing Three buildings collapsed Wednesday night Sao Paulo, Brazil (CNN) -- Brazilian rescue workers dug through rubble in search of survivors Thursday morning, hours after three buildings collapsed in the historic center of Rio de Janeiro,

Mayor Eduardo Paes told reporters. Nineteen people were still missing, Paes said, and five people had been rescued with injuries. Five bodies have been recovered, CNN affiliate Band TV reported Thursday, but it was not known if they were among those reported missing.

Are you there? Send your images or video

The commercial buildings were largely empty when they crumbled Wednesday night, sending rubble and dust flying through the air. Building partially collapses after blast Building partially collapses after blast It was not immediately clear what caused the collapses of the 20-story building and the adjacent 10- and 4-story buildings. Officials said they were investigating both the possibility of a gas leak and a structural failure.

The accident comes at a delicate time for Rio de Janeiro as it prepares for the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games two years later. The buildings were located just steps from the emblematic Municipal Theater, where U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech last year during his visit to Brazil.

Residents talked to CNN affiliate TV Record about what they saw. "I started to hear a crackling. I thought they were gunshots. When I looked up, I saw the top floors falling," maintenance worker Julio Cesar de Oliveira Brandao said. A fire broke out after the buildings fell, the state-run Agencia Brasil news agency reported.

The entire area -- a bustling commercial center during the day and a popular drinking spot at night -- was closed off Thursday. Cars parked on the street near the buildings were covered in dust, and there was a strong smell of gas in the area, fire officials said, according to the news agency.

The lobby of one of the buildings contained a bank branch and a bakery, Agencia Brasil said.

Witnesses told Band TV that neighboring buildings swayed, as if there had been an earthquake. One witness said people were inside one of the buildings when it collapsed. Electrical engineer Jorge Drauss told TV Record he was drinking juice at a nearby diner when he saw small stones falling from the top of one of the buildings. "I thought it was someone making a hole for air conditioning," he said. "From one moment to another, the building began to fall."

Collect the Dust!

I've read other news reports of this collapse. In those reports there were quotes from witnesses saying they heard an explosion before the collapse and they also heard something like gunfire going off. If anyone from Rio is reading this blog, I hope that you will collect dust from that collapse in as unimpeachable way (video the collection, etc.) as possible, so that it may be independently analysed for evidence of explosives...


Try to think rationally and ask yourself how one explosion brings down three buildings that have no structural deficiencies.

I've seen this warped reasoning before, when Chris Sarns alleged the faculty of architecture in Delft was a 'controlled demolition'.

There is a reason why he said that: he didn't like the subtle similarities between that collapse and 9/11, although there were also differences. There were two ways to deal with that: one is to adjust your perceptions about 9/11 and the other is to fold Delft into the conspiracy. (Or maybe there are more way to deal with that... don't want to pose a false dilemma)

Are you folding Rio into the conspiracy?

Gas explosion, perhaps. Grand conspiracy with precedent-creating building-demolition-made-to-look-like-collapse tied to 9/11? Oh, come on.

Illegal construction activity

Witnesses told television news that the largest of the three fallen buildings, some 20 stories high, appeared to crash down first, taking two smaller buildings with it. All three buildings were commercial, which reduced potential casualties since the collapse occurred after business hours. At least six people were injured.

City officials say they don't yet know what caused the collapse. Local speculation quickly turned to possible structural weakness in the tallest building caused by ongoing construction work on at least two floors.

Local construction regulators said no construction permits were on file for the building, suggesting that if work was under way, it was in violation of local building codes.

Some TV news broadcasts suggested an explosion from a gas leak was a possibility.

"The strongest possibility is that there was a structural weakness," Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes said in a televised interview. "It's all speculation right now. But we don't think there was a gas leak."

The disaster is certain to focus attention on Rio de Janeiro's crumbling infrastructure and the upgrade city officials are hoping to pull off before hosting major international sporting events in coming years.


But the city's airports, highways and other infrastructure are aging, and suffered from poor upkeep during the lean economic times of past decades.

Thursday's grim wait was punctuated by stories of some people pulled from the wreckage.

Alexandro Fonseca, a 31-year-old construction worker, said he was bringing construction materials to the ninth floor of the tallest of the collapsed buildings, when he saw the roof swaying. Fearing the worst, he jumped back into the elevator, he said, and found himself inside a free-falling elevator.

The elevator crashed. But he was alive. To Mr. Fonseca's amazement, his cellphone still worked. He called a friend, who helped to direct rescue workers to his location.

They weren't blowing up the building, unless one of those supposedly "in on it", Mr. Alexandro Fonseca was dumb enough to take elevator up at t = 0, and the roofline helpfully swayed before the "bombs" went off to warn bystanders. Sigh.

A Precaution Only

I've no idea whether this collapse is a part of 9/11. However, collecting dust now is cheap and might answer lots of questions tomorrow.

Doubt that these were steel-frame buildings like the WTC 1,2, 7

Many masonry buildings have completely collapsed -- this is not a big deal.

The photo shows masonry, concrete and rebar -- but not steel support columns that I can see.

But correct me if I'm wrong (I don't have much evidence, just the news photos).

Great Observation...

...thank you. I'd love to know for certain.