About 40 people, including two firefighters, were feared dead after a residential building caught fire and collapsed in the Liberian capital Monrovia, officials said on Thursday.

“More than 40 people are buried in this collapsed building,” Captain Kolubah of the National Fire Service told DPA.

The building had housed shops and flats in central Monrovia and was engulfed in flames late on Wednesday when it collapsed.

Witnesses said several people had entered the building on fire to loot it and were then trapped inside when the house caved in.

Five bodies have so far been discovered in the debris, a National Fire Service official said.

Armed officers of the United Nations Mission in Liberia and the Liberian police have been deployed in the area. A search for bodies in the debris is on.

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