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Brazil Dam Collapse Leaves at Least 15 Dead, Dozens Missing

Brasilia, November 6 (teleSUR)-- A dam burst near a mine in southeastern Brazil on Thursday, killing at least 17 people and injuring 50 others, with 45 people reported missing, according to the Iron and Metals Extraction Union.

Located some 300 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro, the bursting of the dam “caused a torrent of mud that flooded several houses in the Bento Rodrigues district of Mariana,” the union said. The mud was equivalent to the surface area of about 10 football fields, reported the AFP. More mud slides are possible. Rescue workers are searching for survivors but could not get closer than 500 meters in, according to Reuters. 

The dam belongs to the Samarco mining company that runs a nearby iron ore mine and held back mining waste product and chemicals. The company is jointly owned by the English firm, BHP Billiton PLC, and Brazil’s Vale SA. The Minas Gerais state has been the main mining center of Brazil for over five centuries.    

About 80 percent of the nearest village, which has a population of 600, has been buried. Though the local mining union leader said that 25 people worked at the mine, AFP also reported that most residents of Bento Rodrigues are employed by the company.    

In a statement, Samarco said it was “mobilizing every effort to prioritize care for the people and mitigate the environmental damage” of the accident. The company said it was “not possible, at this time, to confirm the causes and extent of what has occurred.”
Edited by Ivan Martínez
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