…..“I’ve never seen anything like it’, said one resident. ‘It was horrible … the amount of mud that took over.’
Police have said at least 34 people have died in the Brazil dam collapse and hundreds more are still missing.
The collapse occured in the eastern Brazilian state of Minas Gerais on Saturday, triggering mudslides that buried the surrounding areas in waste from an iron ore mine.
Avimar de Melo Barcelas, the mayor of the town of Brumadinho where the collapse occurred, said earlier in the day on Saturday he expected the death toll to rise as search and rescue operations continue.
A restaurant believed to be full of workers was destroyed, and roads to the area were cut off.
In response to the mine collapse, evacuations were ordered.
The sludge stretched as far as the nearby community of Vila Ferteco.
Firefighters in the evacuation response were helping residents to escape and evacuate with helicpoters.
Images from the aftermath of the collapose showed sludge surrounding the rooftops of buildings.
More than 100 firefighters were at the scene, with another 200 expected to arrive.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Josiele Rosa Silva Tomas, president of Brumadinho resident’s association, told the Associated Press. “It was horrible … the amount of mud that took over.”
“Unfortunately, at this point, the chances of finding survivors are minimal. We’re likely to just be rescuing bodies,” said Romeu Zema, governor of the mining-intensive state of Minas Gerais where the disaster struck.
The collapse of the dam – which is owned by Vale SA, Brazil’s largest mining company – comes just three years after another dam administered by the company and Australian mining firm BHP Billiton burst in 2015 in the city of Mariana, burying a village and pouring toxic waste into a river.
Vale CEO Fabio Schvartsman said he did not know what caused the latest collapse. He said that the burst dam, located at the Feijao iron mine, was being decommissioned and that equipment had shown the dam was stable on 10 January.
Two hours after the accident, Vale’s stock fell by 10 per cent on the New York Stock Exchange.
Many local residents were waiting for news of loved ones who had been working near the dam.
Environmental groups and activists said the latest spill underscored a lack of regulation.
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