Brazil prosecutors begin probe of World Cup stadium's safety

Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:38pm EST
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CUIABA, Brazil (Reuters) - Prosecutors on Wednesday began their evaluation of whether a World Cup stadium in Cuiabá, Brazil, is safe following an October fire there.

They said they did not expect to deliver a verdict until at least the end of the month.

Federal prosecutor Bianca de Britto led a group of engineers inspecting the unfinished Arena Pantanal, one of 12 Brazilian stadiums due to host games of the soccer tournament that opens on June 12.

Reuters reported on Saturday that the stadium suffered "structural damage" in the October 25 fire, according to a previously undisclosed 18-page report prepared in December by the Mato Grosso state Public Ministry, an independent judicial body.

State government officials have said damage was much more limited than the Public Ministry described, and it has since been repaired. The secretary general of world soccer body FIFA, Jerome Valcke, said on Tuesday that, following an independent consultant's visit, he is convinced the facility is safe.

However, Britto said data provided so far by the stadium's builders is "not conclusive in terms of confirming the Arena Pantanal's safety."

She said federal prosecutors want to see a full evaluation of the structure's soundness conducted by the stadium's original designer, or an independent engineer, before they allow games to be played there.

The state Public Ministry is conducting its own separate investigation, which has been delayed until next week because that is the soonest that inspectors from Brasilia can come to Cuiabá, prosecutor Clovis de Almeida told Reuters.

"Only after that visit will we know for certain the stadium's condition," he said by telephone.   Continued...

An aerial view of the construction of the Arena Pantanal soccer stadium, which will host several matches of the 2014 World Cup, in Cuiaba, February 10, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer