Alert raised over imminent risk to another Brazil mining dam

Firefighters are evacuating communities near a mine tailings dam after its owner reports dangerously high water levels.

    Firefighters search the mud, after a dam collapse near Brumadinho, Brazil [Leo Correa/AP Photo]
    Firefighters search the mud, after a dam collapse near Brumadinho, Brazil [Leo Correa/AP Photo]

    An alarm warning of an imminent mining dam rupture was activated early on Sunday in Brazil's Brumadinho municipality, the same community where a dam collapsed killing at least 40 and leaving about 300 missing just two days ago.

    The alarm went off at 5:30am local time (07:30 GMT) warning of dangerously high water levels at a dam that is part of the Corrego do Feijao mining complex, a statement by the Vale mining company said.

    Firefighters said they were evacuating communities near the dam.

    "Attention, general area evacuation! Find the highest point in the city," blared a warning through loudspeakers in Brumadinho, population 39,000.

    A dam at the same mining site burst on Friday, spewing millions of tonnes of sludge, sweeping away and burying buildings and people in its path.

    Earlier disaster

    Another dam administered by Vale and Australian mining company BHP Billiton collapsed in 2015 in the city of Mariana in the same state of Minas Gerais, resulting in 19 deaths and forcing hundreds from their homes.

    Considered the worst environmental disaster in Brazilian history, it left 250,000 people without drinking water and killed thousands of fish.

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    An estimated 60 million cubic meters of waste flooded rivers and eventually flowed into the Atlantic Ocean.

    Over the weekend, state courts and the justice ministry in the state of Minas Gerais ordered the freezing of about $1.5bn from Vale assets for state emergency services and told the company to present a report about how they would help victims.

    Brazil's Attorney General Raquel Dodge promised to investigate, saying "someone is definitely at fault".

    Dodge noted there are 600 mines in the state of Minas Gerais alone that are classified as being at risk of rupture.

    A dam at the same mining site burst on Friday [Douglas Magno/AFP]

    SOURCE: News agencies