Qatar investigates death at World Cup site as labor rights under scrutiny

Sun May 1, 2016 8:19am EDT
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DOHA (Reuters) - The organizers of Qatar's 2022 World Cup said on Sunday they were investigating the death of an Indian laborer at one of its sites but denied it was caused by working conditions which the wealthy Gulf country is under pressure to improve.

Along with accusations of corruption during its World Cup bid, Qatar has long been under fire from rights groups for labor abuses. Last week, world soccer body FIFA urged Qatar to hasten improvements for builders on World Cup sites and said it would monitor conditions.

Qatar, an energy exporter which has the highest income per capita in the world, is also under pressure from the United Nations to address workers' rights before World Cup construction peaks in 2017.

Laborer Jaleshwar Prasad, 48, fell unconscious on Wednesday while performing steel work at Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor, 50 km (31 miles) north of Doha, a witness told Reuters.

Organizers said the death was not caused by working conditions.

"Al Khor Hospital reported the cause of death as cardiac arrest," the Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy of the 2022 World Cup said in a statement.

"The family of Mr Prasad were informed of the tragedy immediately. A full investigation is underway."

Qatar's efforts to become the competition's first Arab host have been dampened by accusations including that workers were forced to live in squalor and to work without proper access to water and shelter in the blazing sun.

About 5,100 construction workers from Nepal, India and Bangladesh are building stadiums in the country.   Continued...

Migrant labourers work at a construction site at the Aspire Zone in Doha, Qatar, March 26, 2016. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon