A father and his four-year-old daughter were found dead and four people, including his wife, were injured after an illegally constructed building collapsed in a favela in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.
Rescuers retrieved Maitê Gomes’ small body at 10:20 a.m. local time and found the remains of her father, Natan Gomes, around noon, Brazil’s online news portal G1 reported.
Gomes’ wife, Kiara Abreu, 27, was pulled from the rubble alive at 9:20 a.m. and rushed to Miguel Couto Hospital.
Nathaniel de Souza, 28; Antonia Conrado, 38; and Jonas Rodrigues, 29, were also hospitalized after members of a search and rescue team made up of more than 100 firefighters and other public safety workers.
The extent of the survivors’ injuries is unknown.
Kiara Abreu (left) was one of four people to survive the collapse of an illegally constructed building in Rio de Janeiro. Her daughter Maitê Gomes (center) and her husband Natan Gomes (right) were the only two victims in the accident
Firefighters search for more survivors after extracting some from the rubble of a four-story building that collapsed Thursday night in Rio de Janeiro’s Rio das Pedras favela. At least two people, including a four-year-old girl, have died and four others have been injured
Local residents said they heard a booming noise, followed by a fire, that sparked panic in the western slum of Rio das Pedras after the building collapsed around 3 a.m. Other nearby homes were also damaged.
According to a spokesperson for the fire service, the building consisted of four houses built on top of each other.
Gomes ran an internet cafe on the first floor of the building and lived with his wife and daughter on one of the floors above.
Authorities have not said whether the three other survivors are related to the couple.
The accident has highlighted the precarious condition of many structures in areas of the city where authorities say organized crime is heavily involved.
The cause of the collapse is under investigation, police said.
Rio das Pedras is the birthplace of the so-called ‘militias’ of Rio de Janeiro and remains firmly in the grip of organized crime groups.
Though originally formed to protect residents from drug gangs, militias — made up of former police officers, soldiers, and firefighters — now function as standalone crime outfits.
Kiara Abreu with her daughter Maitê Gomes (center) and her husband Natan Gomes
Construction in Rio das Pedras, a working-class neighborhood in western Rio de Janeiro, collapsed around 3:20 a.m.
More than 100 firefighters and other security personnel rushed to the scene. A man, a woman and a child were buried, authorities said
Construction in Rio das Pedras damaged nearby homes as it collapsed (photo, firefighters check damage to other homes)
Local residents said they heard a booming noise followed by a fire, sparking panic in the western neighborhood of Rio das Pedras
These groups have grown in power over the past two decades, operating increasingly complex, profitable and deadly rackets throughout the city.
Under their monetization operations, they build residential structures without official permission or approval, and rent the buildings, sometimes with disastrous results.
The building that collapsed on Thursday was not cleared by authorities, sources involved in the rescue said.
“With me, militias are not going to make any more mess in this city,” said Mayor Eduardo Pães of Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.
Residents watched as firefighters and rescue teams searched the rubble of a building that collapsed Thursday morning in Rio das Pedras
More than 180 irregular buildings have been demolished in the western zone alone since January, according to Rio’s Department of Conservation, and more than 150 reports have also been made. A report is the first step on the way to demolition, according to the department.
City officials said they had blocked access to seven buildings near the collapsed building and had all 20 residents relocated.
Maria Augusto da Silva, who lives in the building opposite the collapsed building, said she started screaming when she heard a terrifying noise in the middle of the night.
“I was desperate, I thought this was the end of the world,” she said. “I asked God to save me and my family. But the sound just kept going.’
In 2019, a militia-built building in the adjacent Itanhanga neighborhood collapsed, killing two.
The collapsed building consisted of four small houses perched precariously on top of each other, a fire service spokesman said.
Firefighters rescued a woman alive from the rubble of the collapsed building on Thursday morning
Firefighters are joined by a rescue search dog as they continue to search for victims of a building collapse in Rio das Pedras, west of Rio de Janeiro
A rescue worker searches for victims of a building collapse in Rio de Janeiro’s favela Rio das Pedras