SAO PAULO, Brazil — A soccer stadium collapse in Brazil that killed at least two workers Wednesday could have been much more deadly had it not happened during a lunch break, when most of the 1,600 workers were off site.
Construction company Odebrecht confirmed that crane operator Fábio Luis Pereira, 42, and construction worker Ronaldo Oliveira dos Santos, 44, were killed in the accident.
Reuters is now reporting that the collapse may delay the stadium's opening until February. Because the intial work that was destroyed took 35 days to complete, its cleanup and the rebuild will take twice as long.
FIFA said it is not worried, since the opening game of the World Cup is not scheduled to be played until June.
According to signs seen around the perimeter of the stadium on Thursday, workers are expected to be back on the job on Monday. Those not tasked with working on the stadium itself continued their construction outside the security barrier surrounding the stadium the day after the collapse.
Officials said they are now searching for the crane's black box, which should help them figure out the cause of the accident.
The incident at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo does little to reassure FIFA and football fans across the globe that Brazil will be ready to host the 2014 World Cup.
Two others have died in World Cup stadium construction over the last two years, BBC reported.
“Extremely shocked by the news from Sao Paulo,” FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said. “Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this accident.”
There was some discrepancy around the number killed. BBC said officials revised the death toll to two from earlier reports of three.
Citing military police officials, however, Reuters said three were killed when a crane crumpled to the ground.
Many photos of the incident have emerged on Twitter.
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Locals call the stadium Itaquerão and know it as home to Corinthians. The construction company Odebrecht said it was 94 percent completed.
But Brazil construction workers union leader Antonio Bekeredijan told New York Times bureau chief Simon Romero he asked the Labor Ministry to stop work on the stadium.
The stadium was being rushed to completion to meet a deadline, BBC said, and the crane collapsed during a lunch break. Organizers have admitted they are pressing to complete work on 12 World Cup venues.
Arena Corinthians was to host the opening ceremonies, five round-robin games and a semifinal next June and July.
In a statement on its website, FIFA said it had faith in the country and those working on the stadiums.
“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,” the statement said.
“The Department of Labour and the local authorities will fully investigate the reasons behind such a tragic accident. Please understand that we are in no position to comment further at this stage, as we are awaiting further details from the authorities.”
Someone on the scene during the crane's collapse was able to get video of the incident:
The accident's aftermath was shown on numerous news stations:
With reporting from Jill Langlois in São Paulo.
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