Two construction workers died when a giant crane came crashing to the ground at the stadium due to stage the opening match at next summer’s World Cup.
Preliminary media reports had stated that three people had died at the Arena Corinthians.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter expressed his sorrow and the world governing body pledged, along with the Local Organising Committee, to carry out a thorough investigation into the cause of the fatal accident.
Corinthians, the Brazilian football club that will move into the new stadium, confirmed the deaths on their website, in a joint statement with the constructors.
The statement said: “Odebrecht Infrastructure and Sport Club Corinthians Paulista regret to inform you that in early afternoon an accident during work at Arena Corinthians caused the death of two workers – Fabio Luiz Pereira, 42, driver/operator of the company BHM Munck, and Ronaldo Oliveira dos Santos, 44, builder from the company Conecta.
“Shortly before 13.00, the crane that hoisted the last part of the structure of the metal roof of the stadium collapsed.”
The section of roof that was being lifted into place fell to the ground with the crane, and pictures in Brazilian media showed mangled metal, and a large crack in one of the stands that already had its roof fitted.
Odebrecht and Corinthians indicated they would prove superficial damage and stressed it was a routine operation that had gone wrong.
“The structure of the grandstand was not compromised,” the joint statement said. “It was the 38th time this type of procedure had been performed during the work.”
The work to cover the stands was almost finished when the accident occurred. The piece being lifted by the crane was the final section of the cover over the north stand to be completed, with each other stand already covered.
The Corinthians and Odebrecht statement added: “Teams of firemen are in place. At the moment, all efforts are focused to provide full assistance to the families of the victims.”
Hosts Brazil are due to play in the opening match at the stadium on June 12, 2014, against opponents to be determined at next month’s draw. It is also due to stage five further matches, including a semi-final.
FIFA president Blatter said on Twitter: “I’m deeply saddened by the tragic death of workersCorinthians arena today. Our heartfelt condolences are with the families.”
I'm deeply saddened by the tragic death of workers @Corinthians arena today. Our heartfealt condolences are with the families.— Joseph S Blatter (@SeppBlatter) November 27, 2013
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said he was “extremely shocked by the news from Sao Paulo”.
In a statement, FIFA added: “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. The local authorities will fully investigate the reasons behind such a tragic accident.”
Corinthians also announced the club would respect seven days of mourning for the victims of the tragedy.
Odebrecht reported earlier in November that the World Cup venue was 94% finished. It said on its website that 1,500 workers were involved, with the focus having turned to the final details of the project.