Sludge dam was 'nearly full'

A South African gold-mining company allowed a sludge dam to fill within inches of its top, causing the dam to burst its wall after a downpour, spewing 2.5 million tons of mud into the town of Virginia, the Sunday Times said yesterday, AFP reports from Johannesburg. At least 14 people were killed, and 33 people are still missing.

If negligence or contravention of safety regulations is proven, the mine's insurance policies could be invalidated, leaving a compensation bill that could reach pounds 38m, the paper said.