02 May, 2018
The fire, which is now under control, began at around 1:30am local time, a Sao Paulo Fire Department spokesman said.
While officials have yet to release the cause of the fire, Romulo de Souza, 49, who occupied the building, said he felt perhaps a gas leak could've ignited the flames that ultimately destroyed the high rise and left at least one person dead.
Firefighters said they believed there were victims but do not know how many.
The newspaper reported that the military had joined the rescue effort, and was attempting to extract a person from the upper floors of the building through an adjacent property when the structure collapsed. Firefighters set up a perimeter and worked to evacuate people.
Local workers said the former Federal Police building was 26 storeys tall and occupied by groups of homeless people.
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Brazilian President Michel Temer visited the scene early Tuesday morning, but rushed away after some victims began throwing rocks and debris at his vehicle.
The city and state governments have been working for years to forcibly remove squatters from buildings in central Sao Paulo, with plans for regenerating the area. Victims shouted "leave", behind him. Highly organized squatters have taken over as many as 70 buildings in the downtown area of South America's largest city.
Footage of the collapse was posted to social media, showing debris raining down on the surrounding buildings and streets. "Others are less established and more precarious".
Then-mayor of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria, had launched an aggressive crackdown on these communities.
Doria argued the downtown should showcase Sao Paulo, the engine of Brazil's economy and one of the hemisphere's most important financial centres.