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25 Jan, 2019 19:16

At least 7 dead, 150+ missing after dam burst in Brazil (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

At least 7 dead, 150+ missing after dam burst in Brazil (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Firefighters in Brazil are searching for up to 200 people missing after a dam at an iron ore mine burst. Scores of people were trapped by the the river of sludge released when the dam failed.

The dam, owned by mining firm Vale SA, partially collapsed on Friday, sending torrents of mud and sludge into the forest and villages below. The effluent washed away roads and destroyed buildings in its path.

The press office for the Civil Defense service confirmed seven people were killed, while 17 were injured and rescued. Search and rescue efforts involving over 50 firefighters and several helicopters were suspended for the night but will resume on Saturday.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro expressed condolences, and announced that the Ministers of Regional Development and Mines and Energy, as well as the country’s Civil Defense chief have been sent to the area.

Calling the accident a "human tragedy," Vale CEO Fabio Schvartsman said the majority of people affected were Vale employees, 300 of whom were present at the facility. Workers reported seeing a wave of mud crash down onto the company cafeteria.

The dam is operated by the same company that oversaw another dam in the same state of Minas Gerais that suffered catastrophic failure in 2015. The worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history, the incident flooded the river below with toxic iron waste, killing at least 17 people and displacing hundreds more.

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