More than 200 people were missing Friday after a dam burst at a mine owned by Vale SA, Brazil's largest iron ore company.
Workers of the mining company were eating lunch when the dam collapsed burying the restaurant and surrounding area. Spillage from the dam, which was connected to the mine, had reached the company’s administrative area and part of the community of Vila Ferteco. An extensive area was covered in mud. The mud also cut off roads. President Jair Bolsonaro sent three cabinet ministers to the area. He planned to tour the area by helicopter.
"History repeats itself," tweeted Marina Silva, a former environmental minister and three-time presidential candidate. "It's unacceptable that government and mining companies haven't learned anything. "The status of the workers and others in the city of Brumadinho was unknown late Friday. Only nine bodies of dead persons had been recovered. Many people were rescued. Vale CEO Fabio Schvartsman said he did not know what caused the collapse. After the dam collapsed in the afternoon, parts of Brumadinho were evacuated, and firefighters rescued people by helicopter and ground vehicles. More than 100 firefighters were on the scene and another 200 were expected to arrive Saturday. According to Vale's website, the mine waste, often called tailings, is composed mostly of sand and is non-toxic but possibly it’s not the truth because at a previous disaster it contained high levels of toxic heavy metal.
At least 34 were killed and more than 350 are missing.