A new $12.5 million elevated bike path in Rio de Janeiro came crashing down into the rocks and sea below Thursday morning, killing at least two people.
A massive wave lifted a 150-foot section of the Tim Maia bike path and took it down around 11:15 a.m. local time, officials said, roughly three months after officials opened the path and hailed it as a top legacy project of the upcoming Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Helicopters plucked the bodies of the people who had been on the path at the time of the collapse out of the water and laid them on nearby Sao Conrado beach.
Two other people were rescued and a third person is believed to be missing, said Municipal Secretary Pedro Paulo Carvalho.
“It’s clear that an accident like this is unpardonable,” Carvalho told Globo television. He noted his office’s investigation would determine the cause of the collapse.
Family members said Eduardo Marinho Albuquerque, 54, a father of one, went jogging Thursday on the 2.5-mile-long path straddling the prosperous Sao Conrado and Leblon neighborhoods. His sister kissed his face on the beach and pleaded for another moment to “say goodbye.”
The other victim, a man in his 40s, had yet to be identified by authorities Thursday night, the TV station reported.
Olympic officials emailed a statement saying “our thoughts and sympathies are with the people and their families and friends affected by the tragic accident.”
The flame for the Aug. 5 opening ceremony of South America’s first games was lit at the ancient home of the Olympics in Greece only hours before the collapse. Brazil, which also hosted the 2014 World Cup, is struggling with turmoil amid widespread corruption that may oust President Dilma Rousseff.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes issued a statement saying he is coming back immediately from the events in Greece and calling the incident “unpardonable.”
At the Jan. 17 opening of the path, which sits parallel to a cliffside road above the sea that will serve as the Olympic road-cycling course, Paes called the now-collapsed structure “the most beautiful bike path in the world.”
Concremat, the company that built the path, was founded by the grandfather of Rio Public Works Secretary, Antonio Paulo Viegas Figueira de Mello, respected newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo reported after the collapse. The company’s website was down Thursday and a company spokeswoman declined to comment about the report.
“The priorities at the moment are to ensure treatment of the victims and their families and evaluate the causes of the accident,” Concremat said in a statement.