At least nine people are dead and 300 more are missing after a dam collapsed in Brazil on Friday.
Mine workers were eating lunch Friday when a dam holding back tons of “reddish-brown sludge” collapsed, per The Associated Press. The mining waste flooded the worksite and poured into the nearby town of Brumadinho. Rescuers have so far recovered nine bodies, the governor’s office of Minas Gerais state said, but it fears there will be many more.
At least 100 firefighters were at the scene by Friday night, and 200 more are scheduled to arrive Saturday. By Friday night, at least 187 people reported missing had been rescued, firefighters said.
The mine is owned by Vale, Brazil’s largest mining company, AP says. A dam owned by Vale and another company similarly collapsed in 2015, killing 19 people “in what is considered to be Brazil’s worst environmental disaster,” BBC writes. The sludge that erupted last time contained dangerous heavy metals, the United Nations later found, though Vale’s website says it is non-toxic. Vale’s CEO said this collapse was “a human tragedy much larger” than the last one, though he said its environmental impact probably wouldn’t be as bad.
Newly elected president Jair Bolsonaro called the situation a “tragedy” and said he would soon tour the damage by helicopter, per AP. He’s pledged to deregulate the mining industry to stimulate Brazil’s economy — something environmental groups say will only cause disasters like this to happen again. Kathryn Krawczyk
Source : theweek