In a tragedy sure to fuel popular anger against the World Cup, two people are known to have died and 22 others have been injured after a huge concrete overpass still under construction collapsed onto a busy highway yesterday in Belo Horizonte in Brazil.
The firm building the overpass, Cowan (Construtora Cowan S/A), has said it "deeply regrets the incident and is sparing no efforts to offer the necessary support to victims and families". The firm said it was also shoring a second overpass also being built.
The reinforced concrete structure fell without warning, crushing a number of vehicles including the front of a commuter bus, whose female driver was killed.
Two apparently unoccupied construction vehicles were crushed. Rescue workers have not been able to reach a car that remains flattened under the bridge. It is not known whether anyone was in the car.
The accident happened several kilometres from Mineirao Stadium, which is hosting one of the World Cup semi-final matches on Tuesday.
It is not yet known what caused the collapse.
The bridge was part of a network of new bus corridors reportedly begun in 2010 and supposed to have been complete in May.
On its website, the construction firm carries a notice saying: "Regarding the collapse of the viaduct on the Avenida Pedro I, Cowan deeply regrets the incident and is sparing no efforts to offer the necessary support to victims and families. The company states that:Â
"Teams have been directed to the site for removal of the structure, including providing lighting and other necessary support for carrying out work, which should extend for the next day;Â
"A technical team is already in place to initiate investigations and define the causes of the accident."
The firm is also building a second overpass in the area. The statement said extra shoring is being provided for that.
The tragedy comes as Brazil faces Colombia in the World Cup quarter finals today. An infrastructure project that is not only late but that appears to have failed with fatal consequences will only fuel popular anger in the country over the cost of the games at a time when many Brazilians lack basic services.Â
Some have expressed fears over social unrest if Brazil is knocked out of the tournament today or in the semi finals.