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Blow for Olympic host city as two die when bike path collapses into sea

Two people were killed after a wave crashed into an elevated cycle lane built ahead of the Rio Games.

Rescue workers carry away the body of a person who died when the bike lane collapsed.
Rescue workers carry away the body of a person who died when the bike lane collapsed.
Image: Renata Brito/AP/Press Association Images

A SEASIDE SECTION of an elevated bicycle path built as part of improvements for the Rio Olympics collapsed, killing two people, after a powerful wave crashed into it yesterday.

The tragedy on the €11.2 million path, which was only inaugurated in January, is just the latest setback for Rio de Janeiro as it prepares to host the Olympics in August, the first in South America.

Scuba divers searched for a possible third victim in the ocean after the structure fell along its seaside path over a sheer cliff, said Pedro Paulo, a senior official in the mayor’s office.

Rescuers brought the bodies of two men onto a crowded beach and covered them with a sheet. A woman wept over one of the bodies. Three other people were found alive.

One of the victims was a 54-year-old man who was jogging when the path crashed, relatives said.

“He always ran there,” Joao Ricardo, his brother-in-law, told the G1 news website.

Paulo said authorities were investigating the cause of the accident but that a “strong” wave had struck the path, which is held up by pillars, beforehand.

“The first possibility is that the force of the wave coming from below up lifted the (bike lane) and then the path fell,” he told reporters.

“What happened is unforgivable,” Mayor Eduardo Paes, who was in Greece to attend the lighting of the Olympic torch, said in a statement.

I ordered an immediate investigation and I am returning to Brazil to follow this closely.

The mayor’s office said it would check other projects linked to the Games.

Brazil Bike Lane Collapse A rescue helicopter searches for victims. Source: Felipe Dana/AP/Press Association Images

City upgrade

A witness told Globo television that he had just biked across the path when a big wave appeared.

“It hit the (sea) wall and it went up four to five metres. We saw five people who were also biking fall. The sea was very strong today,” Damian Pinheiro de Araujo, a 60-year-old retiree, told the network.

Waves were still crashing on the cliff where the 50-meter-long (160-foot) section of the bicycle path fell.

The lane runs along Niemeyer Avenue, a road that leads to the Olympic village in Rio’s Barra da Tijuca neighborhood.

The four-kilometre path links the ritzy beach neighbourhood of Leblon with Sao Conrado. The path was built as a city upgrade and tourist attraction ahead of the Olympics.

The company that built the path, Contemat-Concrejato, sent technicians to the site to investigate.

“We will demand an explanation, whether it comes from the engineers who made the calculations or the company that build the structure,” Paulo said.

A group of cyclists called for a protest to demand better road safety in the city.

© – AFP, 2016

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