Workers return to WCup stadium after accident

STAN LEHMAN Associated Press Published:

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Construction workers returned Monday to the stadium that will host the opening match of the World Cup, five days after an accident killed two workers and renewed questions about Brazil's readiness to hold the tournament.

Small groups of stonemasons, metal workers and others trickled into the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo early Monday morning.

Speaking to The Associated Press, they expressed a mixture of trepidation over returning to work and determination to complete the stadium ahead of the World Cup opener on June 12.

"It is all very sad, and I know that sadness and fear will be what all of us are feeling today as we return to work," 26-year-old metalworker Americo Barbosa said as he arrived at the site on a bicycle. "But we are all Brazilians and Brazilians never quit. We're going to get our work done and the first game of the World Cup will be held here."

Construction company Odebrecht suspended work on the site after a crane collapsed on Wednesday as it was hoisting a 500-ton piece of roofing, killing 42-year-old Fabio Luis Pereira and 44-year-old Ronaldo Oliveira dos Santos.

Pereira was inside a truck that was hit by the fallen roofing structure, while Santos was taking a break in an area that was supposed to be clear.

Ahead of the resumption of work, more than 100 workers gathered early Monday on the opposite side of the stadium from where the accident took place for a Mass honoring the two victims.

The cause of the accident was not yet known, but investigators have said they were looking into the hypotheses of human error, a problem with the crane and also the possibility that the ground, soaked by recent rains, ceded under the weight.

While the area around where the accident occurred remained off-limits, authorities gave the green light for the site's 1,350 workers to resume work on most of the site Monday. However, the Labor Ministry has frozen the use of the site's nine other cranes until Odebrecht shows adequate safety measures are in place.

Brazil's preparations for the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, which the South American country is also hosting, have been plagued by delays, cost overruns and constant pressure to move faster.