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Last Updated: Monday, 18 October, 2004, 03:47 GMT 04:47 UK
Blaze consumes Caracas skyscraper
Blazing building
The building is one of the tallest in South America
A fire has destroyed the upper portion of one of the tallest buildings in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

The cause of the fire in the 56-storey East Tower of Parque Central complex is not yet known.

Firefighters backed by military helicopters and troops battled for more than 12 hours against the blaze in the building housing government offices.

Work was halted in the mid-afternoon on Sunday amid fears the structure was on the brink of collapsing.

"There is a problem because the building is made of steel," Information Minister Jesse Chacon said, warning that high temperatures could lead to it melting.

No one is believed to have died in the blaze but some 25 firefighters were injured after inhaling poisonous fumes, officials said.

Infrastructure Minister Ramon Carrizales said the fire was expected to stop on the 34th floor of the building - but the flames instead entered the ventilation ducts and rose "to the 44th floor with great violence".

Caracas fire chief Rodolfo Briceno blamed low water pressure and poorly maintained emergency equipment for the failure to stop the fire.

Paraguay shop fire toll tops 300
02 Aug 04  |  Americas

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