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Aircon failure at Rio airport leaves passengers sweating

RIO DE JANEIRO--Passengers sweltered Friday without air conditioning in parts of Rio de Janeiro's Antonio Carlos Jobim international airport with temperatures outside hovering around 40C (104F).

A spokeswoman for Infraero, which oversees Brazil's airport infrastructure, acknowledged the air conditioning was off in a part of the facility because of ongoing construction at Rio's largest airport. She said it would remain off in that area into February, the height of South America's summer.

Brazil's shoddy airports are a major worry heading into the World Cup in just over five months with many overhauls delayed or scrapped. About 500,000 foreign visitors are expected, stretching airport capacity at 12 venues across the continent-size country.

“It's clear that on a day like today, when the heat index is 50 degrees Celsius (122F), that it's impossible to keep the heat out,” said the Infraero spokeswoman, who was interviewed on condition of anonymity under department policy. “People are constantly coming in and out, the doors are constantly opening.”

Airport capacity and delays in completing 12 stadiums are major worries with football fans facing flight delays and likely confusion around just-completed venues. Many say that last-minute airport renovations will not eliminate operations problems across the system.

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