UK inquest into Qatar World Cup death cites ‘unsafe’ site

In this photo taken during a government organized media tour, laborers work at the Al-Wakra Stadium that is under construction for the 2022 World Cup, in Doha, Qatar, in this May 4, 2015 file photo. (AP)
Updated 28 February 2018

UK inquest into Qatar World Cup death cites ‘unsafe’ site

LONDON: Work practices at a Qatar World Cup stadium construction site where a British worker died last year were “downright dangerous,” a coroner in Britain probing the death said Tuesday.
Zachary Cox, who was born in Johannesburg but later lived in Britain, plummeted 39 meters (128 feet) when a hoist he was using to put in place a suspended walkway broke at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha in January, 2017.
British coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley found the rope-access technician had fallen head first, sustaining brain injuries and a broken neck, after a safety harness had also snapped.
Brighton and Hove Coroner’s Court, in southern England where Cox had lived — heard new working practices, including the use of extra hoists to speed up construction after problems with some of the heavy metal platforms, had preceded the fatal incident.
Hamilton-Deeley called the conditions “inherently unsafe.”
“The site managers at the stadium knew or should have known that they were effectively requiring a group of their workers to rely on potentially lethal equipment,” she said.
“(The new system) was chaotic, unprofessional, unthinking and downright dangerous.”
Relatives of Cox, 40, told the coroner they have been fighting for answers from officials at the stadium’s main contractor, Midmac-Six Construct Joint Venture, and want an independent inquiry and the involvement of Britain’s Foreign Office.
In a statement after the inquest, Cox’s sisters-in-law Ella Joseph and Hazel Mayes demanded “reassurance that those responsible for making the decisions that ultimately led to Zac’s death will be held to account and justice will be served.
An initial investigation into the death, compiled by the contractor and referenced in an annual workers’ welfare report released last June, found concerns over the construction of the high platform from which Cox fell.
The joint venture did not respond to a request for comment from AFP.
Local authorities in Qatar are also conducting their own probe.
Colleague Graham Vance, from South Africa, was initially arrested over Cox’s death and kept in Qatar for 10 months but has since been cleared of any wrongdoing.
Khalifa was the first World Cup stadium to be opened in Qatar, hosting its first major event, the Emir Cup, last May.
It will also be the site of the 2019 world athletics championships.


Afghans honor Japanese aid worker killed in ambush

Updated 48 min 48 sec ago

Afghans honor Japanese aid worker killed in ambush

  • On Saturday, in a memorial ceremony after accompanying the body to Kabul airport, Ghani called Nakamura a hero
  • “Nakamura was a great personality who dedicated his life to the goodness and strengthening of Afghanistan’s deprived people,” Ghani said

KABUL: A 73-year-old Japanese aid worker killed in an ambush outside Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan has been described as a “hero” by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Testu Nakamura and five fellow aid workers died when gunmen attacked their car on Wednesday.
Tributes to the popular aid worker continued to pour in on Saturday with candlelight vigils held in different areas of the country. Schools erected posters of the aid worker while the national airline displayed images of him on its aircraft. 
“The level of grief and respect expressed by Afghans show how much people loved him. None of our current leaders would receive so much respect and attention should any of them die like this Japanese aid worker,” Rasoul Dad, a civil servant, told Arab News on Saturday.
Nakamura’s wife, daughter and three of his colleagues, including a childhood friend, arrived in Kabul on Friday as the Afghan government prepared to return his body to Japan.
The Afghan leader met them at the presidential palace and described Nakamura as a “hardworking personality.”
On Saturday, in a memorial ceremony after accompanying the body to Kabul airport, Ghani called Nakamura a hero.
“Nakamura was a great personality who dedicated his life to the goodness and strengthening of Afghanistan’s deprived people,” Ghani said.
The Afghan national flag was placed on Nakamura’s coffin as his family, accompanied by Japanese Ambassador Mitsuji Suzuka, left for Japan.
Nakamura, who spent more than half his life helping Afghan refugees as a doctor in Peshawar and later worked on several projects in the country, has become a national hero for many Afghans.
He was granted honorary citizenship several years ago after deciding to remain in the country despite the attempted abduction and murder of one of his colleagues.