Brumadinho (Brazil), Jan 27
The death toll from the collapse of a dam holding back mine waste in southeastern Brazil rose to 40 on Saturday as searchers flying in helicopters and rescuers labouring in deep mud uncovered more bodies.
An estimated 300 people were still missing and authorities expected the death toll to increase during a search made more challenging by intermittent rains.
Scores of families in the city desperately awaited word on their loved ones, and Romeu Zema, governor of Minas Gerais state, promised that those responsible “would be punished”.
Employees of the mining complex owned and operated by Brazilian mining company Vale were eating lunch Friday afternoon when the dam gave way, unleashing a sea of reddish-brown mud that knocked over and buried several structures of the company and surrounding areas.
The level of devastation quickly led President Jair Bolsonaro and other officials to describe it as a “tragedy”.
The flow of waste reached the nearby community of Vila Ferteco and an occupied Vale administrative office.
On Saturday, rooftops poked above an extensive field of the mud, which also cut off roads. After the dam collapse, some were evacuated from Brumadinho. Other residents of the affected areas barely escaped with their lives.