Dam collapses in Minas Gerais, nine confirmed dead, hundreds missing

. Jan 26, 2019
Dam collapses in Minas Gerais, nine confirmed dead, hundreds missing President Jair Bolsonaro flies over the affected region in Brumadinho

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In this week’s issue: Dam collapses in Minas Gerais, nine confirmed dead, hundreds missing. The worrying status of Brazil’s dams. The week in review.

Dam collapses in Minas Gerais, nine confirmed dead, hundreds missing

A tailings dam collapse on Friday afternoon in the town of Brumadinho, in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, has claimed at least nine lives and left hundreds missing. The exact causes of the incident are unclear, and rescue operations have been underway for the last 24 hours. President Jair Bolsonaro will visit the region on Saturday afternoon and stated that the government would do “everything in [its] power to minimize the damage.”

The catastrophe comes just over three years after the Mariana mining collapse

, which saw 50 million cubic meters of tailings empty into the Rio Doce, leaving 19 dead, destroying the nearby town of Bento Rodrigues and causing irreparable environmental damage. The two incidents are linked, as the dams in question were both administered by Vale, Brazil’s largest mining company.</p> <p>The fire brigade promptly stated that approximately 200 people were missing, while revised figures are closer to 400. On Saturday afternoon, Vale released a list of 413 dam employees who they were unable to establish contact with. As of the time of publication, the Minas Gerais state government confirmed that nine bodies had been found, with the first identified victim being doctor and Vale <div class="free rcp_restricted "><div class="paywall "></div><p> <div class="readmore-cta-block"> <p><strong>Read the full story</strong></p> <div class="readmore-cta-grid"> <div class="readmore-cta-full"> <a href="/subscribe/free-trial/" class="button2 button-green button-full">Start your 7-day free trial</a> </div> <div class="readmore-cta-half"> <a class="button2 black-text button-full" href="/login/?redirect_url=https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-weekly/2019/01/26/january-26-2019/">Login</a> </div> <div class="readmore-cta-half"> <a href="/services-offers-brazil/" class="button2 button-green button-full">Subscribe</a> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix"></div> </div> </p> </div> employee Marcelle Porto Cangassu.</p> <p>A noticeably emotional Fábio Schvartsman, president of Vale, drew comparisons between yesterday’s collapse and the Mariana disaster, saying that the “environmental tragedy is set to be much less, but the human tragedy will be bigger.” Vale has had BRL 1 billion of its assets frozen, and its stock price has plummeted.</p> <p>It is still unclear what caused the collapse, and the Federal Police have launched an inquiry into the incident. Particularly concerning is the fact that the dam in question was regarded as having a low risk of collapse, according to recent inspection data. The same inspections found that 45 other dams around Brazil are in a much more troubling situation.</p> <hr /> <h2>The week in review</h2> <ul> <li><strong>Brumadinho.</strong> A tailings dam collapsed near the town of Brumadinho, in southeastern Brazil. Nine are confirmed dead and hundreds are missing. The causes of the collapse of the dam, administered by mining company Vale, are still unclear. See more above.</li> <li><strong>Davos.</strong> Brazil&#8217;s president Jair Bolsonaro attended the World Economic Forum this week, in Davos, Switzerland. In his speech during the opening day of the event, Mr. Bolsonaro spoke for little over six minutes, despite being scheduled for 45. Ministers of the Economy and Justice, Paulo Guedes and Sergio Moro, also attended, and made good impressions on the financial elites of Davos.</li> <li><strong>Jean Wyllys.</strong> Brazil&#8217;s first openly gay congressman, Jean Wyllys, of the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), has declared he will not be taking office for his third term in parliament. After receiving a series of death threats, Mr. Wyllys has decided to leave the country, leaving his substitute, Rio city councilor David Miranda, in his place. Mr. Wyllys is a member of the same party as Marielle Franco, who was assassinated in Rio de Janeiro last year.</li> <li><strong>Militias.</strong> Investigations by Rio de Janeiro police into the activity of militia groups in the west zone of the city have uncovered links between the head of a notorious death squad and Flavio Bolsonaro, the president&#8217;s eldest <a href="https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/poder/2019/07/toffoli-atende-a-pedido-de-flavio-bolsonaro-e-suspende-inquerito-com-dados-do-coaf.shtml">son</a>. Mr. Bolsonaro employed the mother and wife of the militia chief in his office as a state deputy for many years.</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2>The worrying status of Brazil&#8217;s dams</h2> <p>Friday&#8217;s catastrophic dam collapse in <a href="https://brazilian.report/money/2019/07/03/brumadinho-investigation-murder-charge-vale-execs/">Brumadinho</a>, coming just three years after the massive environmental tragedy in Mariana, has sparked the collective indignation of the Brazilian people as to the state and safety of the country&#8217;s dams.</p> <p>President Jair Bolsonaro has pushed for looser environmental licensing laws for mining and farming operations in the country, but statistics from the National Water Agency show that in fact tougher oversight is required. There are currently in Brazil 540 &#8220;orphan dams&#8221; — as the agency calls those whose owners are unknown.</p> <hr /> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-16910" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/8d054d2a-0e11-4ce3-b99a-b4c2f058c9b6.png" alt="" width="1294" height="804" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/8d054d2a-0e11-4ce3-b99a-b4c2f058c9b6.png 1294w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/8d054d2a-0e11-4ce3-b99a-b4c2f058c9b6-300x186.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/8d054d2a-0e11-4ce3-b99a-b4c2f058c9b6-768x477.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/8d054d2a-0e11-4ce3-b99a-b4c2f058c9b6-1024x636.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/8d054d2a-0e11-4ce3-b99a-b4c2f058c9b6-610x379.png 610w" sizes="(max-width: 1294px) 100vw, 1294px" /></p> <p>

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