Judge halts stadium construction in Brazil after worker falls to death

I’ve been trying to decide how often to report on Brazil’s $3.3 billion World Cup stadium-building frenzy — life is short, and there’s been so much other craziness to cover — but I think a judge halting construction work after a worker fell to his death certainly qualifies:

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

It was the second death at the Arena 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.

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.

Construction deaths are sadly not all that uncommon, but the rush to complete six new stadiums for next summer’s World Cup (and accompanying protests) has highlighted some of the problems of building on a tight timetable. Already none of new venues will be ready by the end of the year as planned; they’re still all expected to open in time for the actual World Cup in June, but it’s starting to get a bit dicey, especially now that construction workers at the stadium in Curitiba, the stadium furthest behind schedule, have gone on strike over late pay.

But hey, you can’t put a price on the free publicity from a World Cup, right?

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