[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 14 January 2007, 16:49 GMT
Brazil crater scoured for victims
Collapsed subway station structure in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Engineers had to stabilise a giant crane on the lip of the hole

Rescuers in Brazil's biggest city, Sao Paulo, are continuing to dig through mounds of earth in search of several people feared buried in a giant hole.

The walls of a shaft being excavated for a new underground station collapsed on Friday, plunging several cars and trucks into a 30m-deep (100ft) crater.

Rescuers are trying to reach a minibus that witness said had fallen into the pit with at least four people on board.

Work has been slowed by the threat of further landslips.

Brazilian media reported that rescue teams had managed to lift more vehicles out of the hole on Sunday and were nearing the area where the minivan is believed buried.


Authorities said they believed a driver, fare collector and two passengers had been on board.

Two pedestrians and a lorry driver are also feared to have been buried under the mounds of rubble.

Families of those missing have gathered at the site, awaiting news.

"I am praying to God for help. Only he can do something..." the wife of the fare collector, Wescley Adriano da Silva, told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.

Officials are not giving up hope of finding people alive.

"It is possible that an air pocket buttressed by a beam or something else may have been created," Col Joao dos Santos of Sao Paulo's fire department was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

"The oxygen in the air pocket could help anyone trapped underneath to survive."

Giant crane

The ground gave way on Friday afternoon in the central Pinheiros district, where workers were digging a large concrete-lined hole as part of construction work on a new subway station.

Trucks being used on site fell into the crater, which is some 60m (200ft) wide as well as some 30m (100ft) deep.

It took engineers several hours to stabilise a huge crane that was perched on the edge of the precipice and that threatened to tumble in.

Dozens of families are still unable to return to their homes near the site, and some buildings were still without electricity on Sunday, Brazilian media said.

The collapse led to huge traffic jams on one of Sao Paulo's main roads and more disruptions are predicted for Monday as engineers continue their work to stabilise the crater.

An inquiry into what happened has been launched. Officials say heavy rains may have triggered the collapse.

Sao Paulo metro station collapses
13 Jan 07 |  Americas
In pictures: Brazil metro collapse
13 Jan 07 |  In Pictures

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific