Brazil: Casualties from two collapsed dams at a Brazilian iron ore mine owned by BHP Billiton and Vale mounted on Friday as rescue teams searched for dozens missing in the mud and debris left by the flood that devastated a village in the country’s southeast.
Firefighters confirmed 30 injuries and at least two deaths, but said the count was likely to rise as pouring rain slowed the search and mudslides knocked out roads and cell towers.
“I heard screaming and saw the water coming fast, about 15 (49 feet) or 20 meters (66 feet) high,” said survivor Antonio Santos, a construction worker who was at home in the village of Bento Rodrigues when the dams broke on Thursday afternoon. Bento Rodrigues is 150 km (93 miles) southeast of Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s third largest city and the capital of the mining state of Minas Gerais.
“Within 10 minutes the whole lower part of the village was destroyed, about 80 percent of it,” he said in a gymnasium crowded with survivors in the nearby city of Mariana.
Santos said he knew of four people who were swept away, including two children and two adults in their 50s.
Firefighters said they did not if they would find all of those swept away by the wall of water released by the successive bursting of the two dams holding iron ore tailings and waste from the nearby mine.
Television footage from the scene showed Bento Rodrigues, population 600, devastated by the fast-moving floods that tore off roofs, leveled trees and swept away cars. The floods extended as far as the town of Barra Longa, 80 kilometers (50 miles) away. The town was partially underwater.
Hundreds of families were evacuated from the area after escaping to higher ground, Duarte Junior, the mayor of Mariana, 25 km (16 miles) from the mine, told television channel GloboNews after declaring a state of emergency on Friday morning.
Source : Reuters