Brazil dam collapse: Search for survivors resumes as death toll reaches 58

Nearly 300 missing people are presumed dead

Samuel Osborne
Sunday 27 January 2019 20:47
Comments
Brazil dam collapse: Rescue helicopter helps men from sludge as hundreds 'missing and trapped'

Firefighters in Brazil have resumed their search for hundreds of people missing in the wake of a massive dam collapse.

Crews returned to mud-covered areas on Sunday after a several-hour suspension over fears a second dam was at risk of breach.

The dam burst at Vale’s Corrego do Feijao mine in southeastern Brazil unleashed a torrent of mud on Friday, burying the mining facilities and nearby homes in the town of Brumadinho.

Nearly 300 people are still missing, with the list of those unaccounted for being constantly updated, Flavio Godinho, a spokesman for the Minas Gerais civil defense agency, said.

Most of those lost are presumed dead, officials said.

The confirmed death toll rose to 58 on Sunday, according to the Civil Defence Agency.

The death toll exceeded a 2015 tailings dam collapse at an iron ore mine less than 100km (60 miles) to the east, belonging to Samarco Mineracao SA, a Vale joint venture with BHP Group.

The Samarco dam break spilled mining waste into a more remote region five times, killing 19 people, burying a small village and contaminating a major river in Brazil’s worst environmental disaster on record.

Fears about another dam burst in Brumadinho on Sunday triggered evacuation sirens in the town before dawn, but by afternoon officials said there was no risk and the evacuation was called off.

Rescuers search for victims in the mud-hit community of Casa Grande

State fire department spokesman Pedro Aihara initially said 24,000 people would need to be evacuated, but later revised the number down to 3,000. In total, 24,000 people are affected in some way by the disaster, he said.

The Brazilian government has ordered Vale to halt operations at the Corrego do Feijao mining complex.

On Sunday, courts nearly doubled to 11bn reais (£2.2bn) the amount of Vale assets frozen in anticipation of damages and fines.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Vale chief executive Fabio Schvartsman apologised without taking responsibility in an television interview on Saturday.

“Apologies to society, apologies to you, apologies to the whole world for what has happened,” he said. “I don’t know who is responsible, but you can be sure we’ll do our part.”

The cause of the dam burst remains unclear.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in