By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Two workers were killed at the Arena Itaquerão World Cup stadium site in São Paulo this afternoon. Fabio Luiz Perreira, 42, and Ronaldo Oliveira Santos, 44, lost their lives when a crane collapsed onto the roof of the stadium.
Constructors Odebrecht have stopped work at the stadium and the site has been evacuated. The disaster comes one week before the draw for the group stages, to be held in Bahia.
The stadium was reportedly 94 per cent complete but now is unlikely to make the December 31st deadline imposed by FIFA for project completion. One worker suggested to Brazilian football magazine Placar that the intense pressure workers were under to meet the deadline led to the accident.
Fortunately the accident occurred at lunch time; had it been earlier the death toll could have been far greater.
The Itaquerão is scheduled to host six matches at the 2014 World Cup, including the opening ceremony and fixture on June 12th. Local club Corinthians will move into the stadium and use it for home games.
The club will now observe a seven day period of mourning. A joint statement released by Corinthians and Odebrecht read: “Teams of firemen are in place. At the moment, all efforts are focused to provide full assistance to the families of the victims.”
FIFA president Joseph Blatter and general secretary Jerôme Valcke took to Twitter to offer their condolences to the families of the men who died at the Itaquerão.
The latest tragedy is not the first to befall the country in recent building efforts. In June 2012, a worker was killed at the Estádio Mané Garrincha in Brasília.
In March, another man lost his life working on the Arena Amazônia in Manaus. In addition, the Arena Grêmio in Porto Alegre saw eight fans were injured when a safety rail buckled, leaving supporters to fall 30 feet onto concrete.
The news comes as Brazil struggles to prepare the remaining six stadiums on time. What effect this latest downfall will have on the country’s World Cup plans remains to be seen.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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