According to The Associated Press, José Walter Joaquím, the Brazilian crane operator involved in the deadly November 27 accident at the São Paulo stadium that's hosting the opening match of the World Cup 2014 told police Wednesday (December 4) that he'd noticed nothing out of the ordinary ahead of the incident, his attorney said.
Joaquím's attorney, Carlos Kauffmann, said the 1 1/2 hour-long statement to police was the crane operator's first since the November 27 accident that killed two construction workers when the crane collapsed as it was hoisting a 500-ton piece of roofing.
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 metal structure.
"Everything was happening normally, completely normally," the São Paulo-based attorney told AP by phone.
COMMENT: Kauffmann stressed Joaquím's experience, saying the 56-year-old had been operating cranes for 34 years and had already hoisted 37 similar pieces of roofing onto São 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 Bahía ahead of the World Cup draw on Friday.
Brazilian officials have come under fire from FIFA over delays in delivering the twelve stadiums that are to host the 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 December 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 twelve-hour-long shifts were not unusual, although others insisted they worked standard eight-hour-long shifts.
Work on the site was stopped for four days following the accident, but resumed on Monday (December 2), 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% of the total site.
As most of our readers know all too well, I have been critical of Brazil's being able to simultaneously construct not only the FIFA sites, but those for the Summer Olympics in 2016 as well, largely because of construction quality control factors which have plagued Brazil for decades.
Hopefully, there will not be further construction delays, not only on FIFA and Summer Olympic sites, but on massive hotel construction as well.