“Structurally very little was affected,” he said.
Six stadiums have already been declared ready for the games. But Brazil is racing against time to deliver the other six, and there is particular concern that the stadiums in Cuiaba, Manaus and Curitiba may not be ready by the end of December.
FIFA has said it would not accept the same delays that plagued stadium construction before soccer’s Confederations Cup earlier this year, for which only two stadiums were ready on time.
Soccer’s governing body said Wednesday that the “safety of workers is the top priority” to World Cup organizers and called on local authorities to “fully investigate the reasons behind such a tragic accident.”
The Sao Paulo stadium, which cost nearly $360 million, will seat nearly 70,000 people.
It’s scheduled to host six matches in all, including the opener and a semifinal. The stadium was initially expected to be built for June’s Confederations Cup, but delays with financing prompted authorities to scrap the project from the World Cup warm-up tournament.
One of the dead workers, 42-year-old Fabio Luis Pereira, was inside a truck that was 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.
“Unfortunately nobody saw him,” Sanchez said. “He was napping.”
The accident happened at lunchtime, so few of the nearly 1,700 workers were on the site when the crane collapsed.
“The sound was as loud as a thunderclap or a huge explosion,” said Rodrigo Vessoni, a reporter with the sports newspaper Lance who witnessed the accident. “There was a lot of running around, a lot of shouting. It was frightening. Chills ran through my entire body.”
A stonemason who was off at a cafeteria said it was lucky the accident happened when it did.