Two workers were killed when a crane collapsed onto a portion of the stadium being built for the opening game of soccer’s World Cup in Brazil next year.

The crane toppled over, dropping a piece of the roof structure onto part of Sao Paulo’s Itaquerao stadium, the builder, Odebrecht Infrastructura, said in an e-mailed statement. Images showed a corner of the stadium crushed by a piece of metal the size of a passenger plane.

The fatal accident is the latest issue faced by the organizers of soccer’s most-watched event. The government said this week that costs for the 12 stadiums being built for the tournament had soared by about 1 billion reais ($430 million), bringing the total costs to 8 billion reais. Soccer’s governing body, FIFA, has demanded all the work be completed by next month, with several stadiums behind schedule.

FIFA said that it is awaiting details from Brazilian authorities, and that “the safety of workers is the top priority.”

Odebrecht identified those killed as Fabio Luiz Pereira, 42, and Ronaldo Oliveira dos Santos, 44. One of the men was in a truck that was crushed, and the other was hit while he took a break in a stadium tunnel, Odebrecht said. The construction company said it was the 38th time workers had performed the procedure that led to the accident.

The 820 million reais stadium is slated to host the first of the tournament’s 64 games on June 12, and construction was close to completion.

Crowds Gather

Crowds lined a bridge overlooking the stadium, studying the section that had been crushed.

“It’s sad because our hopes about hosting the World Cup are dimmed,” said Elizangela Pinheiro, 25, a civil engineering student, shouting above the din of a helicopter and bulldozers. “The structure of the stands may be too damaged to hold the World Cup opener and maybe Rio will have to host it. It’s alarming because this was our World Cup.”

Anibel Coutinho, the stadium’s architect, said in an interview he didn’t know if the if the stadium can be completed on time. Odebrecht said the “structure of the grandstand had not been compromised” by the accident.

Brazil’s development bank approved half the funding for the Sao Paulo stadium through a 400 million reais loan. The remaining costs are being met privately. Corinthians, Brazil’s richest soccer team, will play in the stadium after the World Cup.

Corinthians said on its website that it “profoundly laments the accident that occurred” and declared seven days of mourning.

With assistance from David Biller in Rio de Janeiro. Editors: Christopher Elser, Larry Siddons. To contact the reporters on this story: Tariq Panja in Rio de Janeiro at [email protected]; Blake Schmidt in Sao Paulo at [email protected]. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at [email protected]


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Tags: brazil, events, olympics, sao paulo, world cup

Photo credit: A man takes a picture of a crane that collapsed on the site of the Arena Sao Paulo stadium, known as "Itaquerao", which will host the opening soccer match of the 2014 World Cup, in Sao Paulo. Nacho Doce / Reuters

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