A crane collapsed at the construction of the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo, leaving two workers dead and an unknown number of casualties.
Andres Sanchez, the Director of Operations at the stadium, said in a press conference shortly after the tragic incident that the crane collapsed as it hoisted a 500-ton metallic piece on to the top of the roof, crushing the two workers to death.
He however also moved to reassure everyone that the overall structure of the stadium had not been affected, although the exact cause of the accident is yet to be discovered. Odebrecht, an engineering firm in charge of the project, had said that the stadium was “94%” complete earlier in the month, but Wednesday’s accident has led to the construction site being cordoned off and all work suspended until further notice.
It had been initially feared that there were three fatalities, but Corinthians have since confirmed that only Fabio Luiz Pereira and Ronaldo Oliveira dos Santos had indeed lost their lives, with a third worker being rushed to hospital in critical condition. The Sao Paulo Fire Department, ambulances and a police helicopter were also on the scene looking for more survivors.
The world football governing body FIFA was quick to extend their condolences to all families and parties affected by the unfortunate accident, insisting that the safety of workers was their “top priority” and that a full investigation into the matter would be launched.
“We wish to send our heartfelt condolences to the families of the workers who tragically died today,” FIFA wrote on their website.
“The safety of the workers is the top priority of FIFA, the LOC and the federal government…the Department of Labour and the local authorities will fully investigate the reasons behind such a tragic accident.”
The Corinthians Arena was meant to host the opening game as well as five other games-including a semi-final-of the World Cup 2014, but Wednesday’s accident has raised more questions as to whether Brazil will indeed be ready to host the tournament on time.
The stadium is one of twelve that will be used during the continental showpiece but the hosts have just until December 31 to get all 12 venues ready, a strict deadline imposed on them by FIFA. It is unclear however whether the hosts will be able to meet the deadline as this is not the first setback to hit their preparations.
A labor court in Curitiba recently suspended work in the city, citing “a serious risk of workers being buried, run over and of collision” among other worker safety breaches. A construction worker lost his life after a tragic fall at the Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha in Brasilia in July 2012, and another worker died in similar circumstances at the Amazonia Arena in March this year.
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