At least seven people died after the rupture of a waste containment dam in Minas Gerais on Friday, the government of this state in southeastern Brazil said in a statement.
“According to data confirmed by the Fire Department, seven bodies of fatal victims were already counted,” the statement said, adding that there were still “close to 150 people missing.” The tragedy occurred in a Vale mine in the town of Brumadinho, 60 km from Belo Horizonte.
Some 100 of the 300 people who worked at the Brazilian mining company Vale buried by mineral waste after the dam’s rupture were located and are out of danger, said the president of the world’s largest iron producer, Fabio Schvartsman.
“We had about 300 workers in that plant, but we do not know how many were in the place at the time of the accident, although we already located about 100,” the executive said at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, where he arrived on Friday. coming from Europe.
According to the governor of the state of Minas Gerais, Romeu Zema, there is little chance of rescuing with life the 150 missing persons identified after the rupture of the mining dike.
The authorities “have done everything possible to rescue survivors, but we know that from now on the chances are minimal and very likely we will only rescue bodies,” the governor said. For now, there are confirmed seven dead in the disaster that occurred in the municipality of Brunadinho.
One of Vale’s dams in the jurisdiction of Brumadinho, municipality of Minas Gerais (southeast Brazil) broke down on Friday and a river of mud destroyed some houses near a neighboring town, but authorities have not confirmed until now if the spill caused deathly victims.
The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who is scheduled to visit the site of the tragedy on Saturday, said that the Government’s main concern at this time is to attend to the possible victims of the “serious tragedy”.
The authorities “have done everything possible to rescue survivors, but we know that from now on the chances are minimal and very likely we will only rescue bodies,” the governor said. For now, there are confirmed seven dead in the disaster that occurred in the municipality of Bernadino.
The Executive also created a crisis cabinet to monitor the situation and stated that “all possible measures are being taken” in light of the seriousness of the events.
As the television images showed, the river of mud after the rupture of the dike has devastated diverse houses, vehicles and objects that it has found on its way.
The mining company Vale, the world’s largest iron exporter, admitted that the accident may have left victims. “There were employees in the administrative area, which was affected by the waste, indicating the possibility, not yet confirmed, of victims,” the giant mining company said in a statement.
The incident comes three years after the rupture of the dikes of the mining company Samarco, controlled by Vale and BHP Billiton, caused the biggest environmental catastrophe in Brazil, which caused 19 deaths due to a spill of mineral waste also in the state of Minas Gerais.
The tragedy of that time generated a wave of seven million cubic meters of mineral waste (nickel, silica and iron), mixed with another 55 million cubic meters of water.