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Safety concern at World Cup stadium

Emergency officials in the World Cup city of Natal have raised concerns about safety problems in the stadium set to host a match, even as a bus strike in the city forced officials to scramble to find alternative transportation for fans.

Fire service spokesman Christiano Couceiro said an inspection of the Arena das Dunas found problems including missing guardrails to keep fans from falling, and temporary seating that was not bolted to the structure.

He also said that an area with 11,000 temporary seats had not yet been inspected by his department.

Inspectors returned to the stadium early today ahead of Mexico's game against Cameroon, but Mr Couceiro said Fifa officials barred them from entering the stadium.

"On Thursday, we could say that 95% of ... the stadium was within regulations. I don't know if they've fixed things now," he said. "It could be by match time 100% of the structure is complete."

Mr Couceiro said he reported his findings to the Rio Grande do Norte state security secretariat and told them that "any incident that occurs in the stadium will be the responsibility of the organisers".

He added that the areas where inspectors found problems should be blocked off from the public, and that is what would take place at any other venue holding a large public event.

Meanwhile, a bus strike that began yesterday in Natal forced the local government to find a fleet of school buses and other vans to transport fans to the stadium.

The city government is arranging for school buses and vans to transport fans, with shuttles running from malls and supermarkets to the stadium.

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