At Least Two People Reportedly Killed In Crane Collapse At World Cup Stadium
At least two people "have reportedly been killed after a crane crashed into a World Cup stadium" in São Paulo, according to Donna Bowater of the London TELEGRAPH. Local media reported the last metal piece of the roof was being installed at the Corinthians stadium "when the ground gave way and the crane collapsed into part of the stands." Odebrecht is "the construction firm responsible for the arena," which is "due to host the opening match at the 2014 World Cup." Odebrecht "confirmed two workers were killed but military police in Sao Paulo said there were three deaths." Major Mauro Lopes said, "According to the operations center, three dead bodies were found." One of the workers at the site, Adilan Freitas, 30, told news website G1 that he "was far from crane when the accident happened but could still hear the noise." Freitas: "I just heard the sound of the panel cracking" (TELEGRAPH, 11/27). In London, John Drayton reported the stadium was formally called Arena Corinthians, but known locally as "Itaquerao." Odebrecht recently said that the arena "was 94 percent complete." An Odebrecht spokesperson "declined immediate comment" (DAILY MAIL, 11/27). The AP reported "work was immediately halted" after the accident. Odebrecht said it was "already investigating what happened (AP, 11/27). REUTERS' Eduardo Simões noted photos taken by local media "appeared to show significant damage caused by the fallen crane to the outside of the stadium." It was "not immediately clear if the damage could pose a major delay to opening the stadium" (REUTERS, 11/27).
IMMEDIATE REACTION: The BBC reported the arena "was due to be completed at the end of December" to meet a FIFA deadline. Corinthians, the club that will move into the new stadium, said in a short statement that it "deeply regrets the accident." FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he was "deeply saddened by the tragic deaths." FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said, "Extremely shocked by the news from Sao Paulo. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this accident" (BBC, 11/27). Hours after the incident, FIFA issued a statement that read: "We wish to send our heartfelt condolences to the family of the workers who tragically died today. The safety of workers is the top priority for FIFA, the LOC [Local Organising Committee] and the federal government. We know the safety of all workers has always been paramount for all the construction companies contracted to build the 12 FIFA World Cup stadiums. Please understand that we are in no position to comment further at this stage, as we are awaiting further details from the authorities" (FIFA).
ANOTHER SETBACK: In London, James Hider reported the accident is "the latest blow to Brazil’s plans for the tournament, which is due to start in just seven months." The preparations "have been plagued by delays, cost over-runs, and big public demonstrations against social inequality." Some construction sites, such as a new terminal at São Paulo’s international airport, "are being built around the clock seven days a week to try to finish them before the tournament begins" (LONDON TIMES, 11/27).