Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil Niemeyer building hit by fire in Sao Paulo

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Media captionFirefighters tackle the blaze at the main auditorium of the complex

Authorities in Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, have fought a major blaze at a landmark building designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer.

A large plume of smoke billowed from the Latin America Memorial, a cultural centre which hosts an art gallery, an auditorium and other facilities.

At least 15 firefighters were injured as dozens of crews went to the scene.

Niemeyer, who was behind some of the 20th Century's best known modernist buildings, died a year ago aged 104.

He designed the main government buildings in the futuristic capital, Brasilia, developing a style defined by sweeping curves and stark concrete.

The Latin America Memorial, built in the west of Sao Paulo in 1989, was empty at the time of the fire and authorities say no members of the public were hurt. The cause of the fire is unclear.

Fire first swept through the 1,600-seat Simon Bolivar auditorium at the complex at around 15:00 local time (17:00 GMT).

While the extent of the damage was unclear, there were fears for some of the art works at the complex.

A spokesperson told reporters that a giant tapestry by Brazilian artist Tomie Ohtake may have been partially destroyed.

Another building in the complex hosted the Latin American Parliament from 1992 to 2007. The parliament is now based in Panama.

The Latin America Memorial comprises several buildings in an area of more than 84,480 sq m (101,376 sq yards) and was designed by the famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and conceived by the anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro.

Image caption Huge plumes of smoke rose from the building on Friday afternoon
Image caption The Latin America Memorial complex hosted the Latin American Parliament until 2007
Image caption It took firefighters more than five hours to control the blaze
Image caption The Latin America Memorial also houses several art pieces

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