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Hope fades for hundreds missing after Brazil dam collapse

by kenya-tribune
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At least 34 people have been killed and about 300 others remain missing after a dam collapsed at an iron ore mine in south-eastern Brazil, officials say.

Rescue teams have been scouring the site near the town of Brumadinho, following Friday’s collapse.

It is not clear what caused the failure of the dam, owned by Vale, Brazil’s largest mining company.

Vale has had 6bn reais ($1.6bn; £1.2bn) frozen from its accounts to help fund recovery works and handle damages.

The rupture of the dam caused a sea of muddy sludge to bury the site’s cafeteria, where workers were eating lunch, and at least one bus that carried employees.

On Saturday, emergency services used helicopters and earth-moving machinery in the search for survivors.

Some 366 people have been rescued, Minas Gerais state fire department says. Of those, 23 have been taken to hospital.

Vale said it could not reach 252 of its employees and contractors. Residents and guests at a local inn were also reported missing.

Eight of the victims have been identified.

Search efforts have been hampered by the difficult access to the area, the BBC’s Julia Carneiro in Brumadinho reports.

Even retrieving the bodies will be complicated because they are thought to be under a thick layer of mud, our correspondent adds.

A bus that was carrying workers had been found but it was unclear how many people were inside. But three people who were stranded in a pick-up truck were rescued alive.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who flew over the disaster area in a helicopter on Saturday, tweeted that it was hard not to get “emotional” after seeing the scale of the devastation.

He said he had accepted an offer by Israel to send search equipment that could find people buried in the mud.

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