Dam collapse floods Brazil community with mining waste

Paulo Fonseca  EPA via Shutterstock

Paulo Fonseca EPA via Shutterstock

While the cause of the collapse has yet to be determined, Brazil's Attorney General André Mendonça believes Vale is responsible for the accident, according to the Washington Post, which also reported that Mendonça is considering filing criminal and civil charges against the company.

"Where are our relatives?" wailed Raquel Cristina, one of several people demanding information about their missing kin in the mud-hit area.

A dam collapsed at an iron ore mine owned by Vale SA in Brazil, leaving some 200 people missing, the fire brigade in Belo Horizonte, the capital of the state of Minas Gerais, said in a statement.

The Brazil office of Greenpeace, the environmental activist group, said Friday's dam break was "a sad effect of the lessons not learned by the Brazilian government and the mining companies". "It was a tremendous noise", said a tearful Simone Pedrosa, from the neighborhood of Parque Cachoeira, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from where the dam collapsed.

Brazilian authorities have resumed the search for hundreds of missing people in the wake of a massive dam collapse.

Tailings had reached Vila Ferteco and administrative office, Vale SA said.

The disaster also tests Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro's leadership skills less than a month after his inauguration and may upend his plans to ease environmental restrictions and boost mining production through reforms in Congress.

Media were urged not to use drones to avoid collisions with rescue helicopters.

Vale Chief Executive Fabio Schvartsman said the dam that burst on Friday was being decommissioned and its capacity was about a fifth of the total waste spilled at Samarco.

His government set up urgent coordination between the defense, environment and mining ministries to bolster operations by the state of Minas Gerais.

"I could only see people screaming and shouting", she said. She said it was inexcusable "that the Government and the mining companies have learned nothing".

The search for more survivors of a dam collapse at a mine in Brazil has been suspended, amid fears of a fresh breach. "I just don't want to think that he is under the mud".

Another dam administered by Vale and Australian mining company BHP Billiton collapsed in Mariana, Minas Gerais, in 2015, resulting in 19 deaths and dislocating hundreds from their homes.

Vale Mining Company issued a statement lamenting the accident, saying: 'Vale reports that, at the beginning of this afternoon, Dam 1 of Feijão Mine was broken in Brumadinho (MG). Courts have frozen 6 billion reais ($1.6 billion) in Vale's asses to pay for the damage.

The death toll from the tailings dams rupture on Friday at Vale's Corrego do Feijao iron ore mine in Minas Gerais state is expected to rise sharply, with more than 300 still missing in the country's worst mining disaster since 2015.

"Vale destroyed Mariana and now they've destroyed Brumadinho", she said. The far-right leader campaigned on promises to jumpstart Brazil's economy, in part by deregulating mining and other industries.

"We're lost, we don't know anything".

"History repeats itself", tweeted Marina Silva, a former environmental minister and three-time presidential candidate.

Environmental groups and activists said the latest spill underlined a lack of regulation.

"How can they let this happen again?"

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