A mining dam in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais collapsed on Friday, 25 January, causing a massive mudflow in the municipality of Brumadinho.
In a report of 27 January, 2019, Minas Gerais state Civil Defence confirmed that 34 people had died, 23 hospitalized, 81 made homeless and about 100 people rescued.
There are still over 250 people missing and search and rescue teams working on the ground and in helicopters are continuing operations. According to the state governor, there is a little chance of finding survivors.
Parts of the nearby city of Brumadinho, which as a population of around 40,000, were evacuated.
In a statement of 26 January, Vale, the company that owns the mine said:
“Dam 1 of the Córrego do Feijão Mine in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, breached on Friday afternoon and part of its contents hit two small buildings, B4 and B4A, which were downstream of the dam. These buildings were sediment containment basins, meaning, they only contained water drainage from the rain, preventing the contents to be carried by the water to the outside environment. The dam was inactive and the decommissioning of the dam was being defined. At the time of the breach, employees were working in the administrative area when it was hit by the tailings. Rescue and care of those affected is being carried out on site by the Fire Department and Civil Defense.
“Vale deeply regrets the accident and is making every effort to provide relief and support to those affected. The top priority, at present, is to support the rescue efforts, to help preserve and protect the lives of all employees and members of local communities.”
The disaster bears some similarities to the Bento Rodrigues mining dam failure, also in Minas Gerais, of November 2015.
It is feared that the toxic mud from the dam break could make its way into the country’s river network as happened after the Bento Rodrigues.