An overpass under construction collapsed in the World Cup host city Brazil, killing at least two people and trapping a commuter bus, two construction trucks and a car in an embarrassment for a country that has been basking in praise for what has mostly been a smoothly running soccer tournament.
At least 22 people were listed as injured along with the two deaths, Brazilian officials said. There was no word on whether foreign tourists were among those killed or injured.
Authorities didn’t think the casualty numbers would rise too sharply, though they said they had not yet reached a small passenger car that was flattened by the falling overpass. It was not known if anyone inside the car escaped or remained inside. Officials said they would be working through the night trying to the car.
Yesterday’s incident is the biggest black eye yet for Brazil’s hosting of the World Cup, which has been carried out with less chaos than many had feared.
In the run-up to the event, there were serious concerns about the ability of Brazil’s airports and roads to handle the influx of tourists because of delays or outright cancellations of projects to improve urban transportation.
After Brazil was awarded the World Cup in 2007, politicians promised $8 billion would be spent on 56 airports, subway lines and other such projects nationwide. But less than 10 of the infrastructure projects were completed in time for the tournament, including the project where the overpass collapsed in Belo Horizonte.
It was not known what caused the overpass to fall. Cowan, the construction company responsible for building it, said investigators were on site but had not released any conclusions.
“It sounded like an earthquake or a bomb,” said Alexandra Pereira, a teacher who was taking a nap with her 10-year-old son in her apartment building just 20 meters (yards) from the overpass. “I looked out my window and panicked. I couldn’t see anything but a huge cloud of dust.