Cup deadline worries after fatal collapse

The fatal accident at a Brazilian World Cup stadium could mean it misses a December 31 deadline for completion, authorities say.

Two workers died after a crane toppled at Sao Paulo's Itaquerao Stadium, the venue for the opening match of the 2014 World Cup finals.

Football's world governing body Fifa has said all 12 arenas hosting games for the first World Cup to be held in Brazil since 1950 must be ready by the end of the year.

Lead contractor Odebrecht insisted the accident had not "compromised" the stadium's structural integrity but others insisted safety had to come before deadlines.

Andres Sanchez, former chairman of Corinthians club, which owns the stadium, said the work could face a delay. "I don't want to know about [Fifa], or anything else," Sanchez said. "We are worried about the families" of the victims, said Sanchez in response to reporters' questions on whether the completion date would be affected.

The crane was hoisting a 500-tonne metallic piece to the top of the roof. It collapsed on part of the stand and a huge LED panel. One of the dead workers, 42-year-old Fabio Luis Pereira, was inside a truck hit by the fallen metal structure. The other, 44-year-old Ronaldo Oliveira dos Santos, was taking a break in an area that was supposed to be clear.

Civil defence officials said work on 30 per cent of the site would be stopped, throwing the completion date into doubt.

Fifa has maintained the December 31 World Cup deadline is non-negotiable.

"It was a huge explosion," said stonemason Evandro Pereira. "It was really very scary."

The accident comes just a week before the top names in soccer arrive for the draw that will determine where and when all 32 teams will play in the World Cup's opening round.

World Cup preparations have been plagued by setbacks including cost overruns, stadium delays, accidents, labour strife and street protests in the run-up to the June tournament.

- AFP, AP

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