Time running out for nearly 200 missing from Brazil dam collapse

NASA's Earth Observatory shows satellite images of the Feijao mine in Brazil after the dam burst near Brumadinho, Brazil, on January 30. Photo by NASA/EPA-EFE

Feb. 4 (UPI) — Rescuers in Brazil worked Monday to find nearly 200 missing persons, now ten days after the collapse of a dam containing iron ore involving Brazilian mining company Vale.

By Monday, officials said at least 134 people had died — 120 have been identified, and 199 are still missing, G1 reported. Search efforts were interrupted earlier Monday due to weather. Officials said chances of finding survivors now are minimal.

Justice officials in Minas Gerais State denied a release request for five people, including three Vale officials and two engineers of TUV SUD, who’ve been detained since January 29 on suspicion of fraud related to documents guaranteeing safety, G1’s report said.

Folha de Sao Paulo reported at least two companies had offered Vale equipment to provide better security for the dam, but the company declined.

Vale has already retired dams built by the upstream method, deactivating 19. The company said it’s offered financial and psychological support to victims, and taken other actions to try to mitigate damage.

The company is facing lawsuits in the United States and Brazil over the dam collapse.

Valor Economico reported Monday judicial authorities plan to order Vale’s largest mine in Minas Gerais to shut down, attributing the information to an O Globo columnist.

An O Globo report Sunday said environmental damage caused by river pollution associated with the collapse will be felt for many years.

Forests with enormous hydric importance for biodiversity would feel the impact, it said. Twenty-five species of mammals, 259 bird species and 38 fish species — including 14 under threat of extinction — are threatened.


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