SAO PAULO – The number of people confirmed dead after the collapse of a pair of four-story residential buildings in a militia-controlled neighborhood of this southeastern Brazilian metropolis stands at 15, authorities said on Tuesday.
Rescue teams, meanwhile, are continuing to search for nine people who remain missing in the wake of Friday’s tragedy.
Two people pulled alive from the wreckage early Tuesday died later at the hospital, the Rio de Janeiro fire department said.
Found along with the survivors were two additional bodies.
The four latest fatalities were three adult women whose ages and identities have not yet been specified, and a male, who would be the son of one of them, according to firefighters.
Besides the 15 deaths, the tragedy left eight injured, of whom four remain at hospitals in the west Rio neighborhood of Muzema.
The two buildings that collapsed on Friday were unlicensed, shoddily built constructions located in a difficult-to-access district controlled by militias, according to Rio de Janeiro’s mayor’s office, which warned that 30 other buildings in that area are in a similar condition.
Authorities have evacuated at least 50 families and 176 local residents have received care from the city government’s social services.
The occupants of 13 buildings near the two that collapsed were authorized Monday evening by rescue teams to return to their homes to recover their documents, clothes and any valuables they might have.
Area residents say the militias – criminal organizations made up of corrupt current and former police officers that control various parts of this metropolis of nearly 7 million people – seize plots of land in Muzema and build residences that they subsequently sell illegally.
Authorities are investigating what caused the buildings to collapse and are trying to identify those responsible for their construction, as well as those in charge of auditing the works.
The judge of the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice, Ernesto da Fonseca Costa, accepted Monday a petition by prosecutors to suspend any new construction by the militias, which own around 30 buildings.