Fire in Brazil shantytown leaves 2,500 homeless

Sao Paulo: A huge fire destroyed around 500 homes in a shantytown - or favela - here in Brazil's largest city, leaving about 2,500 people homeless, the fire department said Monday.

The blaze destroyed about 80 percent of the rickety shacks making up Buraco Quente, a slum in southern Sao Paulo. But there were no reports of any serious injuries.

Paramedics provided medical attention to a pregnant woman who developed breathing problems due to inhaling gases and smoke from the fire.

The fire broke out about 9 p.m. Sunday, and firefighters were unable to bring it under control until well past midnight because of the speed with which it spread, fed by the inflammable materials - mainly wood - making up the shacks, the fire department said.

A total of 96 firefighters were dispatched to the scene to control the blaze, but they had to halt their efforts for a time because of the lack of water due to the ongoing drought in the area.

The people who lost their homes were taken to a church near the shantytown, where they were registered by civil defence personnel so that they may benefit from the social programmes that are available to help them in circumstances like this.

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