Rescue workers try to reach vehicles trapped underneath a bridge that collapsed while under construction in Belo Horizonte. REUTERS/Carlos Greco-DYN
An unfinished overpass collapsed in the Brazilian World Cup
host city of Belo Horizonte, killing at least one person and
casting a shadow over a tournament that has suffered repeated
construction accidents and delays.
The bridge, located about two miles (3 km) from the Mineirao
Stadium where World Cup games are being played, collapsed as
vehicles were passing on a busy road underneath.
Part of a passenger bus was crushed and another car was still
trapped in the wreckage hours later.
The collapsed bridge stretched over one of the major
thoroughfares connecting the stadium area with the
international airport. It was part of a Bus Rapid Transit
(BRT) system that officials had promised would be ready for
the World Cup.
Groups of people gathered around the scene of the accident,
some shouting furiously.
"This is the incompetence of our authorities and our
businesses," said Leandro Brito, 23, a bank worker. "Because
of the World Cup they sped everything up to finish faster.
That's why this tragedy has happened. They are not making
things properly. Everyone is very angry."
Heavy government spending on the World Cup, and long delays
building infrastructure projects, spurred violent street
protests across Brazil over the past year, although they have
died down in recent weeks and the tournament has gone more
smoothly than many fans and government officials had
Still, several projects were plagued by fatal construction
accidents. Eight workers died building stadiums in the 12
cities that have hosted games.
Via Twitter, President Dilma Rousseff offered her
government's assistance to local authorities if needed.
"In this moment of pain, I offer my solidarity to the
families of the victims," she said.
There were conflicting reports over the casualties of the
accident in Belo Horizonte, which has already hosted five
World Cup games and has the semi-final match on Tuesday.
The city's fire department confirmed one death and 19
injuries, Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Estevo said. A health
department spokesman earlier said two people had died but
later said one of the deaths had not yet been confirmed.
Work on the network of bus corridors, financed with more than
1 billion reais ($450 million) in federal funds, began in
2010 and was supposed to finish in May.
Downtown portions of the BRT network are running during the
World Cup, but long stretches are still under construction.
The cause of the accident, the worst since the month-long
tournament began on June 12, was unclear and no workers were
known to be on the overpass when it fell.
Rescue operations continued under floodlights, and officials
had not been able to reach one of the trapped cars.
"We cannot reach the vehicle; we don't know how many victims
there are and there could still be someone alive," Estevo
GloboNews TV showed video of bloodied passengers of the bus
staggering away from the wreckage, screaming. Later, pictures
near the scene showed people holding signs that said, "This
is the reality of the Cup" and "World Cup disaster: put it on
Last month a worker died after a 90-tonne beam fell during
the construction of a monorail train project in São Paulo.