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Rescuers search for survivors as death toll rises in Rio building collapse

Rescue workers dig through the wreckage of three buildings in Brazil's downtown Rio de Janeiro.

Rescue workers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil dug through the wreckage of three buildings searching for survivors from Wednesday's collapse that has killed at least 12 people and left another 17 missing, the Associated Press reported.

The families of those missing are staying in a nearby government building, waiting and hoping for good news as time runs out. The head of the state's Civil Defense agency says the search will continue another 48 hours.

"[It's] to minimize the suffering of families (of the victims)," said Colonel Ronaldo Alcantara, of the Rio fire department, Agence France-Presse reported.

On Friday, friends and relatives attended the first funeral for one of the victims. Celso Renato Braga Cabral, 46, was buried in the Botafogo district, the BBC reported. He had worked for a technology firm based in the 20-story building.

More from GlobalPost: Rio high-rise collapse highlights World Cup, Olympic concerns (VIDEO)

The cause of the collapse is under investigation but authorities suspect illegal construction created structural damage that contributed to the fall and brought down neighboring buildings.

Experts said the incident illustrates how fragile Brazil’s infrastructure is ahead of the 2014 soccer World Cup and 2016 Olympics. A gas leak late last year ignited an explosion that killed three people.

More from GlobalPost: Rio slum-clearing plan brings new concerns for Brazil

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/brazil/120127/rescuers-search-survivors-death-toll-rises-rio-building