Sao Paulo, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - A section of the Itaquerao Stadium, which was set to host the opening match of the 2014 World Cup, collapsed on Wednesday, killing two people and injuring several more.
The fatalities occurred when a crane fell on the stadium, causing significant damage. The arena, which will stage five further World Cup games in addition to the opening fixture, including a semifinal, was said to be 94 percent complete and due to be finished at the end of December to meet a FIFA deadline.
Television images showed that a huge metal structure buckled atop the stadium, destroying part of the stands in the east side of the venue. A LED panel installed outside the venue also was hit.
FIFA president Joseph "Sepp" Blatter sent a message of condolences via Twitter:
"I'm deeply saddened by the tragic death of workers at Corinthians Arena today," he said. "Our heartfelt condolences are with all the families."
FIFA also released a statement on Wednesday, saying: "The safety of workers is the top priority for FIFA, the LOC, the federal government. 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."
Brazilian club Corinthians, which owns the stadium, issued the following statement: "The board of Sport Club Corinthians Paulista deeply regrets the accident earlier in Corinthians Arena."
The 2014 World Cup is scheduled to begin at the Itaquerao stadium on June 12.