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Prosecutors seek to stop construction in Brazil after death

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The Canadian Press
12/15/2013 9:19:30 AM
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SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Public prosecutors want to halt construction at the World Cup stadium where a man fell 115 feet (35 metres) to his death while working on a roofing structure in the jungle city of Manaus.

Prosecutors want the "immediate" interruption of work in all areas where labourers need to be high above the ground. They said work should only restart after constructors show that all safety measures are in place at the Arena da Amazonia, the stadium hosting four World Cup matches next June, including England vs. Italy and United States vs. Portugal.

It isn't clear when the request will be considered by a labour judge.

Work at the venue was interrupted after Saturday's death but was expected to resume on Sunday. It was the second death at Manaus' Arena da Amazonia this year and the third at a World Cup venue in less than a month.

A few hours after Saturday's death, another worker died of a heart attack while paving an area outside the venue in Manaus. Later in the day, a local union threatened to start a strike there on Monday to complain about inadequate conditions offered to labourers.

Two workers were killed when a crane collapsed on Nov. 27 as it was hoisting a 500-ton piece of roofing at the Sao Paulo stadium that will host the World Cup opener. Last year, a worker died at the construction site of the stadium in the nation's capital, Brasilia.

The first death at the Arena da Amazonia happened in March. Another worker died in April at the new Palmeiras stadium, which may be used for teams training in Sao Paulo.

The Arena da Amazonia is among the six World Cup stadiums that will not be delivered by the end of the year as wanted by FIFA because of construction delays.

Prosecutors said workers shouldn't be allowed back onto the construction site until it's deemed completely safe.

"There is a need for a detailed report attesting that the minimum safety requirements for labourers working in heights are in place," they said in a statement.

Marcleudo de Melo Ferreira, 22, died Saturday while helping to installing diamond shaped panels to the latticework of steel girders that form part of the stadium roof. Dozens of labourers were balanced on the girders as they worked. When complete, the panels on the roof are meant to resemble snake scales.

Constructor Andrade Gutierrez said the causes of the accident would be investigated but reiterated its commitment to worker safety.

FIFA and local World Cup organizers expressed condolences for the death on Saturday and said worker safety was always a priority at all 12 host cities.

Manaus officials want to hold the first test event at the stadium on Jan. 15, with around 10,000 workers who participated in the stadium's construction serving as spectators.

Arena de Amazonia (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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