World Cup stadium engineer ‘warned of safety problems’

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A SAFETY engineer at the World Cup stadium where a giant crane collapse killed two workers allegedly warned his supervisor of possible problems with the operation.

But his concerns were brushed aside as sniping over the accident heated up, a trade union boss has claimed.

The incident on Wednesday has increased worries about Brazil’s ability to host next year’s tournament, as well as the 2016 Olympics, though authorities insist they will be ready for both.

Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians was due to be completed by the end of December, and workers have suggested that speed was a top priority on the construction site, with many doing 12-hour shifts and skipping holidays.

The stadium was initially scheduled to be part of the Confederations Cup earlier this year, but world football’s governing body Fifa decided against using the ground in the warm-up tournament because of financing problems before construction even started.

Antonio de Sousa Ramalho, president of Sao Paulo’s civil industry workers’ association, said supervisors pressed ahead with the operation to finish the roof despite several rainy days that soaked the soil.

He said the engineer warned his supervisor that it appeared the ground was not stable enough to support the 500-ton piece of roofing.

“To his surprise, he was told by the supervisor that nothing was wrong and work should continue,” said Mr Ramalho.

Odebrecht, the powerful Brazilian construction company behind the stadium project and three other World Cup venues, strongly denied the claims.

Following a visit to the site on Thursday, the civil defence official in charge of the inspection said there were no obvious signs that the ground was unstable.

Jair Paca de Lima said only the area where the accident happened will remain closed, but work can resume at most of the stadium as soon as Monday, when a three-day mourning period ends.

According to Brazilian media reports, investigators are also looking into human or mechanical error as possible reasons for the collapse.

Fifa officials and other global football personalities are due in Brazil next week for the high-profile World Cup draw in the resort city of Costa do Sauipe.