SAO PAULO: Two people have died in an accident at Sao Paulo’s stadium that is due to host the opening ceremony of next year’s World Cu finals.

A senior local fire official said crews were called to the Arena Corinthians after reports of a collapsed crane. It fell on top of a metal structure, destroying parts of a stand. The arena was due to be completed at the end of December to meet a FIFA deadline. Brazil has admitted it is struggling to have all 12 venues ready.

Reports in local media say there was a big crash as the structure collapsed, making construction workers run. Most of the workers were said to be away during their lunch breaks.

TV footage later showed the huge metal structure buckled on top of the stadium, which is also known as Itaquero after the district in which the Corinthians club will be making their new home after the finals.

Corinthians said in a short statement that it “deeply regrets the accident”.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said he was “deeply saddened by the tragic deaths”.

Workers’ safety

In a statement, world football’s governing body said that “the safety of workers is the top priority for FIFA” and Brazil’s government.

The venue is being built by Brazil’s Odebrecht company which has estimated work as 94pc ready.

The core capacity of the stadium will be 45,000 but temporary stands for an extra 20,000 are being built in for the World Cup so that the stadium can fulfil the minimum requirement for the Opening Match which it will host.

This is the third fatal accident in World Cup stadiums in Brazil, with two other construction workers killed over the past two years.