Hundreds missing after Brazilian dam collapse

The incident comes just over three years after another dam burst in Minas Gerais, killing 19 people. That was Brazil's worst environmental disaster

The breached dam devastated a large area (Photo: Twitter)
The breached dam devastated a large area (Photo: Twitter)

Nine bodies were recovered and hundreds of people remain missing after a dam operated by Brazilian mining giant Vale collapsed in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, releasing a red wave of iron ore waste.

Fire chief Col Edgar Estevão said 100 people had been rescued from the sea of mud released by the dam, according to the G1 news site.

Rescuers worked overnight into Saturday searching for around 300 people missing. The bodycount is expected to increase.

Seven bodies were recovered Friday hours after the disaster, which saw a torrent of mud break through the disused dam at the iron-ore mine close to the city of Belo Horizonte, in the state of Minas Gerias.

By early Saturday the official death toll had risen to nine, with "nearly 300 people missing," the local firefighters said, doubling the number of people presumed missing from the previous toll.

The state governor, Romeu Zema, told reporters on Friday he did not expect many survivors. “We know now that the chances of having survivors are minimal and that we will probably rescue bodies,” he said.

Brazilian television showed images of survivors being winched to safety by a helicopter after the disaster at the Feijão mine near Brumadinho, less than two hours from the state capital, Belo Horizonte.

As videos and photos of the destruction wrought by the torrent of mud swept around social media, enraged Brazilians demanded punishment for anyone responsible.

Up to 150 of those missing worked in the company's administrative offices which were closest to the dam break, firefighters said.

The mine is owned by Vale, a Brazilian mining giant that was involved in a previous 2015 mine collapse in the same state that claimed 19 lives and is regarded as the country's worst-ever environmental disaster.


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