1 Dead After Blast Destroys Brazilian Police Weapons Warehouse

An explosion Tuesday ripped through a state police warehouse used to store guns and ammunition in Sao Paulo, killing one officer and injuring as many as five, police and Brazilian media said.

The explosion at about 9 a.m. local time caused a fire that destroyed the building. Brazilian media reported the death and said between two and five officers were hurt, but police did not immediately confirm those reports.

Authorities were investigating the cause of the blast, said a public safety department spokeswoman who said she was not authorized to give her name.

The warehouse is located in a police complex near a juvenile prison, alongside one of the busiest highways in South America's largest city.

Several vehicles used by Sao Paulo riot officers were destroyed, and authorities closed down part of the highway so firefighters could park their vehicles to fight the flames.

Brazilian media reported three successive explosions that were heard blocks away. Authorities prevented reporters from going near the scene, but footage shot from a Globo TV helicopter showed that the warehouse was almost completely leveled.

Brazil has been hit by waves of gang-related violence, with gang members torching buses and attacking police in the country's major cities including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

There was no immediate word on the cause of Tuesday's explosion, which happened in broad daylight. Almost all the attacks on police by gang members in Sao Paulo and Rio happened late at night or before dawn.