A BRIDGE being built in the World Cup host city of Belo Horizonte collapsed last night, killing at least two people and injuring some 19 others.
The concrete motorway overpass gave way trapping several vehicles, including a bus and two construction lorries.
The female driver of the commuter bus was one of those killed, said captain Federico Pascual, a spokesman for the city’s fire department.
The overpass – which was still under contruction – collapsed around two miles from the
The city has hosted five World Cup matches in the 2014 tournament. They included England’s match against Costa Rica on 24 June and Brazil’s game against Chile on 28 June. It is due to stage a semi-final on Tuesday.
Capt Pascual said at least ten of the people trapped under the bridge were construction workers. .
Speaking at the scene, he said: “The overpass arched over a really busy thoroughfare.” He said rescue workers had yet to get access to the vehicles trapped underneath.
The bridge is part of the World Cup infrastructure plan aimed at improving Belo Horizonte’s public transport system.
Television images showed the yellow bus and other vehicles under the rubble.
Fire services sent 11 engines and a helicopter to start enabling rescuers to get access to
the people who had been crushed.
Eyewitness Daniel Magalhaes said that when he saw the bridge collapse, it felt “like an earthquake. The ground shook violently. I heard a very loud bang”.
Renata Soares, who was on the bus, said: “We were travelling normally and then there was a terrible noise. I am sure that more people in other cars were underneath the debris.”
Police said it was too early to determine what caused the tragedy. Reports said the overpass was part of works on a motorway that links the Confins airport to Pampulha, one of ten flyovers built to cope with the increased number of visitors to the city, in the south-east of Brazil, for the World Cup.
It was part of the £700 million spent in Belo Horizonte in connection with the event.
The collapse comes a month after a worker died after a 90-tonne beam fell during the construction of a monorail train project in Sao Paulo.
Heavy government spending on the World Cup and long delays in finishing promised infrastructure projects spurred violent street protests in Brazil over the past year, although they have died down in recent weeks.
Unlike many other cities, where stadium delays were a constant headache for Fifa, the near 60,000-seat Mineirao Stadium was delivered on time for the Fifa Confederation Cup held last year. It was the first of the 12 World Cup venues to open.