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March 31, 2017

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Worker dies at Brazil World Cup stadium in electrical accident

SAO PAULO -- A worker at a World Cup stadium in Brazil died Thursday in an electrical accident, temporarily interrupting construction at one of the most-delayed venues only five weeks before the soccer tournament.

Rosenil Moraes, head of emergency services in the western state of Mato Grosso, said the construction worker received an electric shock at the site of Arena Pantanal in the wetlands city of Cuiaba. He died more than half an hour later of a cardiorespiratory arrest. Officials were not clear on what caused the accident.

It is the latest accident to tarnish World Cup preparations, marking the eighth death from injuries while building stadiums for the world's biggest soccer tournament. His death comes at a worrisome time as organizers rush to finish the last three stadiums ahead of the opening match on June 12.

Moraes said paramedics unsuccessfully tried to revive 32-year-old Muhammad Ali Maciel Afonso at the stadium, which is still missing seats because of delivery delays.

"Our workers followed all the protocols and tried to revive him for more than 40 minutes. But he didn't survive," said Moraes.

Afonso was working for a company called Etel Engineering that is setting up the information and communication networks at the stadium. The firm has not issued a statement, saying it needed to gather more information first.

Local World Cup organizers said Mato Grosso state police are at the scene investigating what could have sparked the electric shock around the stadium's skybox. They say that so far it looks like an isolated incident.

World Cup organizers in Cuiaba offered their "solidarity to Afonso's family" in a news statement and said they "will wait for the police investigation into the causes of the accident."

Police officers sealed off the area where Afonso died, temporarily halting the networks installation at Arena Pantanal. But officials say the construction continues in the rest of the stadium to make sure it will meet the World Cup deadline.

Emergency services' Moraes said the company is also carrying out an investigation into what went wrong. Officials said the worker appeared to be using safety equipment when he suffered the electric shock.

The accident happened only hours before President Dilma Rouseff toured another stadium still under construction in Sao Paulo in an attempt to soothe fears over delays that could interfere with the matches.

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