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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 January 2007, 15:17 GMT
Sao Paulo metro station collapses
Collapsed subway station structure in Sao Paulo, Brazil
One eyewitness spoke of an explosion before the landslide

Several people are feared missing in Brazil's city of Sao Paulo after a hole being dug for a new underground station collapsed leaving an enormous crater.

Emergency services are trying to reach passengers from a minibus that fell into the 30m (100ft) deep hole in the city's central district of Pinheiros.

Six vehicles have been recovered and rescuers are searching for the minibus. A lorry driver is also missing.

The landslide occurred at 1500 local time on Friday. An inquiry has begun.

Conflicting eyewitness reports cite an explosion before the landslide, others say the underground structure simply gave way.

Paulo Roberto dos Santos, vice-president of Transcooper, the company that owns the minibus, told local media they were trying to locate the vehicle by satellite, mobile phone and radio.

It is thought that the driver, ticket collector and four to six passengers were on board at the time of the landslide.

Lorries being used on site also fell into the 60-metre (200ft) diameter hole. A 50ft crane, that was perched on the edge of the precipice, has been stabilised.

At least 79 families living close to the site have been evacuated to hotels, as local water, electricity and phone lines have been cut.

Traffic was diverted from the scene, causing huge traffic jams on one of Sao Paulo's main roads.

Heavy rain is forecast which the authorities fear may further hamper rescue efforts.

In pictures: Brazil subway collapse
13 Jan 07 |  In Pictures

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