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Rio de Janeiro Buildings Collapse Leaving 5 Dead, Dozens Missing (VIDEO)

Three buildings collapsed in the center of Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday evening leaving at least five people dead and dozens missing.

The buildings were each several stories high, but were mainly used for commercial purposes, and were thus largely empty when they came down.

The first building, a 20-story commercial building, came down at around 8 p.m. local time and two other adjacent buildings followed suit in the commercial center.

The entire area was closed off to the public on Thursday as rescue workers dug through the rubble searching for any possible survivors, although it seems unlikely.

“We hope there might be an air pocket and that we might find some survivor but this possibility is lamentably very small,” City Civil Defense Secretary Sergio Simoes told reporters.

It is unclear what caused the buildings to collapse, but Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes told reporters that officials believe that a structural failure is to blame for the collapse and promised to relay information as officials discover more information regarding the tragic incident.

“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 told TV Record.

Cars located near the collapsed buildings were covered with heavy layers of debris and the entire area surrounding the city’s commercial heart is full of rubble. The buildings were located just one block from the historic Municipal Theater, where U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech just last year.

Rio de Janeiro, which is set to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, has been facing much scrutiny in recent months due to the repercussions of its poor infrastructure.

Just months ago a gas explosion tore through a restaurant in downtown Rio de Janeiro killing three people, while city residents have been forced to deal with increased occurrences of landslides and exploding sewer lines in recent months.

Click below to see raw footage of the buildings.

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