Brazil bridge collapse mars World Cup party

A bridge collapses on top of a passenger bus in Belo Horizonte

Two people were killed when a bridge collapsed two miles from Belo Horizonte's World Cup stadium

LAST UPDATED AT 15:02 ON Fri 4 Jul 2014

Brazil's World Cup celebrations have been dampened by the collapse of a bridge in Belo Horizonte, killing two people and injuring at least 20.

The overpass fell onto traffic at a busy highway linking the city's airport with the 64,000-seat Mineirao Stadium, which is scheduled to host a World Cup semi-final on Tuesday.

Two lorries, a bus and a car were crushed, and officials said they didn't know if more vehicles were trapped underneath the structure.

Television images showed bloodied passengers staggering away from the bus. A spokesman for Belo Horizonte's fire brigade said that 13 people were rescued from the wreckage.

The cause of the collapse is not yet known, but Cowan, which built the bridge, has sent engineers to investigate.

Anti-World Cup demonstrators were later seen at the site with billboards saying, "This is the reality of the Cup" and "World Cup disaster: put it on Fifa's bill".  

The unfinished overpass was part of an urban transit project originally scheduled for completion before the tournament.

Reuters says the accident "casts further doubt on a tournament blighted by repeated construction accidents and heavy delays".

Eight workers died during the construction of stadiums, and last month a builder was crushed to death by a 90-tonne beam at a monorail project in Sao Paulo.

Officials had promised that £4.7bn would be spent on improving Brazil's transport links and infrastructure after Fifa approved its World Cup bid in 2007. But of the 56 projects commissioned fewer than 10 opened on time, The Guardian says. According to the Financial Times many of the host cities "remained virtual building sites even as the first games got underway".

Despite public anger, the FT does not expect the accident to erase "Brazil's renewed optimism for the tournament". In a survey released earlier this week, 60 per cent of Brazilians said the World Cup had made them proud to be Brazilian. Before the tournament, when protests reached their peak, the figure stood at 45 per cent. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.