Seven dead in Brazilian stadium disaster

RIO DE JANEIRO Sun Nov 25, 2007 8:22pm EST

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RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - At least seven people died and dozens were injured on Sunday when part of a spectator stand collapsed at a stadium in northeastern Brazil during a professional soccer match, firefighters said.

Television footage from Salvador, a candidate city to host soccer World Cup matches in 2014, showed a hole in the floor of the stadium's upper tier and the bodies of several people who had apparently fallen to the street below. Others were being treated inside the stadium.

A duty fire brigade officer in Salvador, the capital of Bahia state, said over 40 people were taken to hospital.

Some 60,000 people were in Fonte Nova stadium to watch the third division match between local side Bahia and opponents Vila Nova from Goiania.

As cheering fans jumped up and down the stands, part of the structure gave way toward the end of the game.

Hundreds of people, unaware of what had happened, charged onto the field at the end of the match to celebrate the local team's promotion to the second division after 0-0 draw. They tore up pieces of turf to take home as souvenirs and knocked over advertising boards.

A planned celebration featuring several musical bands was canceled.

Bahia state government said in a statement it had shut down the stadium and promised an investigation.

Salvador is one of 18 cities bidding to host matches at the 2014 World Cup, which will be staged in Brazil. The city is planning to build a new stadium.

The last major stadium accident in Brazil happened in 2000 when a fence collapsed during the Brazilian championship final between Vasco da Gama and Sao Caetano at the Sao Januario stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The fence gave way under a crush of fans and more than 150 people were injured.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood and Andrei Khalip, editing by Alan Elsner)

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