Attorney: No problems before Brazil collapse
The crane operator involved in last week’s deadly accident at
the Sao Paulo stadium that’s hosting the opening match of the World
Cup told police Wednesday that he’d noticed nothing out of the
ordinary ahead of the incident, his attorney said.
Lawyer Carlos Kauffmann said Jose Walter Joaquim’s 1 1/2
hour-long statement to police Wednesday was the crane operator’s
first since the Nov. 27 accident that killed two construction
workers when the crane collapsed as it was hoisting a 500-ton piece
Police are still investigating the cause of the accident, and
media reports have said the three main hypotheses are human error,
a problem with the crane and the possibility that the ground,
soaked by several days of rains, ceded beneath the weight of the
Kauffmann said Joaquim told police that before the accident,
”he didn’t notice any problem. Because if he had noticed a
problem, he wouldn’t have gone ahead with the operation.”
”Everything was happening normally, completely normally,” the
Sao Paulo-based attorney told The Associated Press by phone.
Kauffmann stressed Joaquim’s experience, saying the 56-year-old
had been operating cranes for 34 years and had already hoisted 37
similar pieces of roofing onto Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians
without incident. The roofing structure that came crashing down
last Wednesday was to be the final piece.
Joaquim’s statement came as top brass from world football’s
governing body, FIFA, and Brazilian sporting officials gathered in
the northeastern coastal state of Bahia ahead of the World Cup draw
Brazilian officials have come under fire from FIFA over delays
in delivering the 12 stadiums that are to host World Cup matches.
Four of the six stadiums used in the World Cup warm-up tournament
held earlier this year were delivered late, and Brazilian officials
on Wednesday acknowledged that none of the six remaining stadiums
will meet FIFA’s Dec. 31 deadline.
Brazilian media reports were rife with speculation that hurry to
deliver the Arena Corinthians, which is also known as Itaquerao,
well ahead of the June 12 opener may have contributed to the
accident. Some of the 1,350 workers on the site told journalists
that 12-hour-long shifts were not unusual, although others insisted
they worked standard 8-hour-long shifts.
Work on the site was stopped for four days following the
accident but largely resumed on Monday, except on the area
immediately surrounding where the accident took place. Odebrecht,
the construction firm building the stadium, said the off-limits
area represents only about 5 percent of the total site.