Despair turns to anger | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 29, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, January 29, 2019

BRAZIL DAM DISASTER

Despair turns to anger

Death toll rises to 60; nearly 300 still missing

Grief over the hundreds of Brazilians feared killed in a mining disaster has quickly hardened into anger as victims' families and politicians say iron ore miner Vale SA and regulators have learned nothing from the recent past.

By yesterday, firefighters in the state of Minas Gerais had confirmed 60 people dead in Friday's disaster, in which a tailings dam broke sending a torrent of sludge into the miner's offices and the town of Brumadinho. Nearly 300 other people are unaccounted for, and officials said it was unlikely that any would be found alive.

Vale shares plummeted 17 percent in yesterday's trading on the Sao Paulo stock exchange, which had been closed on Friday.

Brazil's top prosecutor, Raquel Dodge, said the company should be held strongly responsible and criminally prosecuted. Executives could also be personally held responsible, she said.

Vale Chief Executive Fabio Schvartsman said during a visit to Brumadinho on Sunday that facilities there were built to code and equipment had shown the dam was stable two weeks earlier.

The disaster at the Corrego do Feijao mine occurred less than four years after a dam collapsed at a nearby mine run by Samarco Mineracao SA, a joint venture by Vale and BHP Billiton , killing 19 and filling a major river with toxic sludge.

While the 2015 Samarco disaster dumped about five times more mining waste, Friday's dam break was far more deadly, as the wall of mud hit Vale's local offices, including a crowded cafeteria, and tore through a populated area downhill.

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