Construction workers returned to work Monday (Dec. 2) at the site of nearly completed World Cup stadium in Brazil where a crane collapse killed two workers last week.
As the workers gathered in prayer before returning to their tasks in Sao Paulo, investigators continued their probe of the collapse Wednesday (Nov. 27) that killed Fábio Luiz Pereira, 42, and Ronaldo Oliveira dos Santos, 44.
Both perished when a massive crane hoisting a nearly-500-ton piece of metal roofing collapsed onto the Arena Corinthians just before 1 p.m. local time. The stadium is being built for World Cup 2014, which opens June 12.
No cause of the collapse has been identified. About 1,350 people work at the site, reports said.
Pererira was a driver employed by BHM, and Oliveria dos Santos was an assembler employed by Conecta.
The area where the incident occurred remained off-limits as work on the rest of the stadium resumed, according to the general contractor Odebrecht.
The soccer stadium—which was expected to host the tournament’s opening match—was nearly complete before Wednesday’s incident. The project started in May 2011.
All 12 World Cup stadiums were scheduled to be completed Dec. 31, under a deadline set by FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), reports said. For months, reports have questioned Brazil’s readiness for the event.
Roof Module Hoisting Collapse
In a statement, the Brazilian construction company in charge of the project said the accident had occurred when the crane lifting the last module of the stadium’s metallic roofing structure toppled.
The module, which weighed about 420 tons, fell onto a circulation area and partially damaged the LED façade on the east side of the building, according to Odebrecht.
The super crane had the capacity to lift 1,550 tons.
An architect visiting the site captured the tragedy on camera. The video is posted here.
The stadium structure was not compromised, Odebrecht representatives added, noting that some 37 modules had been installed previously without any problem.
On Nov. 15, a 420-ton roofing module was installed on the stadium's south sector. The east module was the same size, according to the general contractor.
“This was the 38th time that this procedure had been carried out on the site, and a module the same size had been installed just over a week ago in the stadium’s south sector,” company representatives said.
It took a 65-member team working 72 hours to prepare for the hoisting and placing the south module, the company said.
Police, civil defense authorities and labor officials are investigating the cause of the collapse, according to reports.
Authorities say they are following three lines of investigation: human error, mechanical problems, and instability in the ground underneath the crane.
A safety engineer at the site allegedly warned his supervisor of unstable ground around the stadium before the accident, but his warnings were not heeded, a labor union leader told The Associated Press. The construction company has denied that accusation.
Moreover, an inspection official said there were no obvious signs of unstable ground after he visited the site Thursday.
"When we looked at it, it didn't seem like the ground shifted, maybe just a few millimeters," Jair Paca de Lima said in a television interview.
"Maybe after an analysis with the equipment we will know more."
Police were reportedly planning to question the crane operator Friday (Nov. 29), but the results of that interview had not yet been reported Monday morning.
Witnesses said the operator had jumped out of the equipment when he realized it was collapsing with the metal roofing still attached, reports said.
The Labor Ministry has ordered Odebrecht not to use the other cranes on the site until “safety measures are in place and there is no more risk of accidents."
The company is in charge of three other World Cup venues.
This is not the country’s first brush with unsafe working conditions on its 2014 World Cup stadium projects, which are expected to cost $3.5 billion.
“In early October, construction on Curitiba's Arena da Baixada was halted by court orders due to unsafe working conditions,” the Associated Press reported.
“A judge cited countless infractions and said workers were at risk of ‘being buried, run over and of collision, falling from heights and being hit by construction material.’”
In a statement, FIFA expressed condolences to the victim’s families and said, “The safety of workers is a top priority for FIFA, the (local organizing committee), and the federal government.”