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Unfinished overpass in World Cup project collapses


BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) - An overpass under construction collapsed Thursday in this World Cup host city, 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 reported injured. There was not yet any word on whether foreign tourists were among those killed or injured.

Brazilian officials 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.

The 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 cancelations 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."

Within seconds, Pereira said, her neighbors from the ground floor rushes out to pull injured from the bus that was partially trapped under the overpass.

Pereira said she and several neighbors in a group of nine residential buildings close to the overpass had long complained to the mayor's office that they feared for their safety from the construction and asked authorities for compensation so they could move.

She said the request was rejected and the mayor's office assured them the project was safe. The mayor's office ws closed for the day, but Lt. Col. Edgar Estevo da Silva, a spokesman for the fire department, said officials had inspected the nearby apartment buildings and didn't find any sign they were at risk because of the overpass collapse.

Among the dead was a woman who was driving a commuter bus trapped by the overpass died, said Capt. Federico Pascual of the Belo Horizonte fire department. An official in the mayor's office reported the death of a second person.

The official said 22 people were known to be injured. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk to the media about the incident.

The overpass collapsed about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from Mineirao stadium, which has hosted several World Cup matches in recent weeks and is the site of a semifinal match Tuesday.

The overpass "arched over a really busy thoroughfare," Pascual said.

Security camera footage showed heavy traffic on the street below the structure the moment that the overpass collapsed, striking vehicles below and trapping them underneath.


Associated Press writer Adriana Gomez Licon reported this story from Sao Paulo and Victor R. Caivano reported in Belo Horizonte.

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rsun346659 July 03 2014 at 4:18 PM

9 out of 10 brazilians are poor The billions of dolars spent on the world cup should have been spent on brazilian education, health care, housing, infra structure, transportation, etc. This is the reason millions of brazilians are protesting

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7 replies
soccer_sucks July 03 2014 at 4:16 PM

Just another reason NOT TO GO THERE

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6 replies
rsun346659 July 03 2014 at 4:16 PM

In brazil bridges collapse on a daily basis, because the money that was supposed to go to the infra structure is gone by ways of corruption

Flag Reply +16 rate up
3 replies
danied88 July 03 2014 at 5:35 PM

thats what you get when you spend $11 billion dollars on stupid soccer stadiums and nothing on the city infrastructure, hospitals, schools ect... Now you know why the Brazilian citizens are protesting the stupid world cup!!!!! The Brazilian government rather spend money on garbage then helping it's own people!

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2 replies
mmtoellner danied88 July 03 2014 at 10:17 PM

Do you people know,Brazil is making all the money back, restaurants, hotels,Tourists going everywhere and spending , spending, and spending.....

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4 replies
BlahBlahBlah danied88 July 04 2014 at 9:41 AM

I think the plan was to bring in money for those things by hosting this event and trying to get their tourism back, but it apparently was poorly planned and managed from the start. mmtoellner is right, though, even with all the problems they've had, they are bringing in money with tourism right now.

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Doug July 03 2014 at 4:38 PM

Third world construction. At least here, bridges don't collapse until they're many years old and are neglected.

And that is why soccer is of the devil. Trouble follows wherever it is. You have to be afraid you may not make it home alive from a soccer game.

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10 replies
jurmik July 03 2014 at 6:08 PM

The USA infrastructure has collapsed already.

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6 replies
MICHAEL July 03 2014 at 4:45 PM

this isnt exactly the first major project to collapse. does brazil even have building codes?

Flag Reply +5 rate up
3 replies
Donald Schuler July 03 2014 at 4:41 PM

Bridges collapse all over the world . Major collapses in the USA are not unheard of .Remember Minneapolis just a few years ago ? Takes time to figure out why this bridge collapsed, so blaming it on wild things like money shortages, or inferior work is nonsense .

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4 replies
twiggymonsterone July 03 2014 at 4:34 PM

This is what happens in third world countries that have third rate construction contractors do cheaply constructed infrastructure projects!

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2 replies
Normajean Bianchi twiggymonsterone July 03 2014 at 7:52 PM

Third World Country? Read a little more about Brazil. Thank you

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
Wes Normajean Bianchi July 04 2014 at 3:45 AM

They are third world by definition. And the fact that they have the next Olympic is scary. For our athletes and the tourists.

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ga7smi twiggymonsterone July 03 2014 at 8:18 PM

and approved by the Vatican

Flag Reply 0 rate up
pamelama50 July 03 2014 at 9:48 PM

Congress left yesterday without approving money needed for the USA's infrastructure...potholes, failing bridges, etc. PLUS, god knows they don't want the "government" to regulate building codes.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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