Brumadinho dam collapse: 300 missing ‘Little hope’ of finding missing in Brazil
About 300 people are missing after a dam collapsed at an iron ore mine in south-eastern Brazil, officials say.
The break caused a sea of muddy sludge that buried the dam’s cafeteria where workers were eating lunch on Friday.
Rescue teams used earth-moving machinery at the site near the town of Brumadinho, in Minas Gerais state.
State governor Romeu Zema said there was little chance of finding people alive. So far nine people have been confirmed dead.
It is not clear what caused the collapse of the dam, owned by Brazil’s largest mining company, Vale.
On Saturday, state prosecutors filed a request to freeze 5bn reais ($1.33bn; £1bn) on Vale’s accounts to help fund recovery works and handle damage claims.
The collapse comes just over three years since a dam burst in Mariana, also in Minas Gerais, killing 19 people, in what is considered Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.
What do we know about the collapse?
The dam near Feijão iron ore mine burst its barrier at around 13:00 local time (15:00 GMT) on Friday, flooding another dam down below.
The torrent of sludge cut through the dam’s complex, nearby farms and the neighbourhood where many of the workers live, destroying houses and vehicles.
The company’s chief executive Fabio Schvartsman said only one-third of the roughly 300 workers at the site had been accounted for.
Local firefighters also said the number of missing in the area could be as many as 300.
“I’m anxious, I want news,” 28-year-old Helton Pereira told the BBC as he waited outside a hospital in nearby Belo Horizonte – his 28-year-old wife and 35-year-old sister worked at the dam’s cafeteria and were both missing.
The search is being carried out by 100 firefighters with 100 more expected to join them on Saturday.
“From now, the odds are minimal and it’s most likely we’ll recover only bodies,” Governor Zema said.
A helicopter flies over a dam owned by Brazilian miner Vale SA that burst, in Brumadinho, BrazilImage
Built in 1976, the dam was one of several in the area and it was used to hold residue from the mine.
It had capacity for 12m cubic metres and had been an inactive site for three years, Vale said.
It said the incidents “are not accidents but environmental crimes that must be investigated, punished and repaired”.
More than 60m cubic metres – enough to fill 20,000 Olympic swimming pools – spilled over into the surrounding area.