Dam burst at mining site devastates Brazilian town

At least one dead and dozens missing after dam holding back waste water from an iron ore mine burst in Mariana city.

    Civil defence authorities in Mariana said about 600 people were being evacuated to higher ground [EPA]
    Civil defence authorities in Mariana said about 600 people were being evacuated to higher ground [EPA]

    A dam holding back waste water from an iron ore mine in the southeastern Minas Gerais state has burst, devastating a nearby town with mudslides and leaving officials in the remote region scrambling to assess casualties.

    "The number of missing is going to surpass 40 but that is not official," Adao Severino Junior, fire chief in the city of Mariana, told AFP news agency on Thursday.

    Civil defence authorities told Reuters that casualties were still not confirmed and that numbers reported in Brazilian media were speculative. A city hall official confirmed one death and 16 injuries, adding that dozens more were missing.

    Rescue crews continued to search the muddy waters after nightfall.

    Brazilian army units nearby stood ready to help the search and rescue effort and the minister of national integration, Gilberto Occhi, planned to visit the state on Friday to provide assistance, according to a note from the presidency.

    The mining company Samarco, a joint venture between top iron ore miners Brazil's Vale and Australia's BHP, said in a statement it had not yet determined why the dam burst or the extent of the disaster at its Germano mine near the town of Mariana in Minas Gerais, southeastern Brazil.

    Civil defence authorities in Mariana said it was evacuating about 600 people to higher ground from the village of Bento Rodrigues, where television footage showed dozens of homes destroyed by the mudslide. A car rested on top of a wall where the roof of a building had been ripped off.

    They said the flood had also reached another village further down the hill, called Paracatú de Baixo, and that inhabitants there were being evacuated.

    The dam was holding tailings, a mining waste product of metal filings, water and occasionally chemicals. It was located near the Gualaxo do Norte river, adding to fears of potential water contamination.

    SOURCE: AFP And Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?