Death toll in Brazil dam disaster rises to 157, 182 missing
Updated 11:51, 08-Feb-2019
CGTN

The death toll from a dam collapse at a mine in southeast Brazil's Minas Gerais state has risen to 157 after nearly two weeks of searches, with 182 missing, authorities said on Thursday.

Those listed as missing are presumed dead, but not yet located under the layers of muddy mining waste released when the tailings dam broke apart in the town of Brumadinho on January 25. 

In recent days, rescue teams have battled rains which limited their ability to fly helicopters over the area. 

Virtually all the dead and missing were workers at the iron ore mine, buried under an avalanche of sludgy mining waste when the dam collapsed above the facility's cafeteria and main administrative area. 

A logo of the Brazilian mining company Vale SA is seen in Brumadinho, Brazil, January 29, 2019. / VCG Photo

A logo of the Brazilian mining company Vale SA is seen in Brumadinho, Brazil, January 29, 2019. / VCG Photo

On Wednesday, Brazilian mining giant Vale lost its license to operate the Lanjeiras dam, vital to its biggest mine in southeastern Minas Gerais state, the firm said.

The decision comes two weeks after the Brumadinho dam storing mining waste collapse, which is 160 kilometers away.

It was the second such disaster in three years at a mine owned by Vale, the world's biggest iron ore producer.

"The State Secretary for Environment and Sustainable Development...cancelled the Provisional Operational Authorization of the Laranjeiras dam," Vale said in a statement Wednesday, adding the decision was due to an ongoing public civil suit against the company.

The dam at Vale's Corrego do Feijao mine near Brumadinho, Brazil, is pictured before its January 25, 2019 collapse in this June 2, 2018 handout satellite photo obtained on January 27, 2019./ Reuters Photo

The dam at Vale's Corrego do Feijao mine near Brumadinho, Brazil, is pictured before its January 25, 2019 collapse in this June 2, 2018 handout satellite photo obtained on January 27, 2019./ Reuters Photo

The dam at Vale's Corrego do Feijao mine near Brumadinho, Brazil, is pictured after it's January 25, 2019 collapse in this January 26, 2019 handout satellite photo obtained on January 27, 2019./ Reuters Photo

The dam at Vale's Corrego do Feijao mine near Brumadinho, Brazil, is pictured after it's January 25, 2019 collapse in this January 26, 2019 handout satellite photo obtained on January 27, 2019./ Reuters Photo

The Laranjeiras dam has been paralyzed since Monday after a court order suspended the Brucutu iron ore mine in Minas Gerais. It's Vale's biggest and has an estimated annual production of 30 million tonnes.

Vale insisted the dam was constructed properly and is certified as stable.

The Minas Gerais government also canceled Vale's license to operate the Jangada mine, where work has also been halted in the wake of the Brumadinho disaster.

News agency G1 reported Wednesday that Vale had detected problems in data from sensors monitoring the dam's stability two days before the tragedy, according to company emails discovered by police.

Wednesday's decision saw Vale shares plummet 4.63 percent on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange, and 6.19 percent on the New York Stock Exchange.

Source(s): AFP