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World Cup workers threaten strike after fatal construction accident

Construction workers surround the crane from which a piece of iron fell and hit the head of a worker who later died of his injuries.
(AFP / Getty Images)

The construction worker injured Friday at the site of the World Cup stadium in the Amazon city of Manaus has died and now others employed there are threatening to go on strike, further hampering efforts to prepare for this summer’s soccer tournament in Brazil.

Antonio Jose Pita Martins, a 55-year-old from Portugal, was killed while disassembling a crane that was used to install part of the roof at the Arena da Amazonia, where the U.S. will play its second group-play match in June. He is the third worker to die at the construction site in less than a year.

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“We have to guarantee the workers’ rights and their safety,” union leader Cicero Custodio told reporters, according to the Associated Press. Custodio said the site will be closed Monday.

Hampered by corruption, labor problems and delays, work on some of the stadiums and transportation infrastructure in Brazil has consistently failed to adhere to deadlines set by FIFA, the global governing body for soccer and the organizer of  the World Cup.

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Five of the tournament’s 12 stadiums are nearly a year behind schedule and are still under construction less than four months from the opening match.

Officials in Manaus said the Arena da Amazonia was 97% complete when Friday’s accident occurred.

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