Brazil Dam Collapse: Hundreds missing after dam bursts at mine

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Dozens of people who were trapped inside - many of them covered in mud - had to be evacuated by helicopter as roads were destroyed.

Video footage from the site showed a helicopter rescue crew hovering over a wide field of reddish-brown mud, struggling to pull victims free.

Seven bodies were recovered Friday hours after the disaster, which saw a torrent of mud break through the disused dam at the iron-ore mine close to the city of Belo Horizonte, in the state of Minas Gerias, around 1:00 pm. "It was frightful...the amount of mud that took over".

"It's distressing, maddening", said Vanilza Sueli Oliveira, who was awaiting news of her nephew.

At least 11 people are dead and up to 300 people have been reported missing after an apparent dam collapse in Brazil on Friday.

Neighbors of an iron ore mine belonging to Brazilian miner Vale SA were evacuated on Friday in southeastern Minas Gerais state, when a tailings dam ruptured, pouring out mud into the surrounding area, the company and authorities said. It's considered the worst environmental disaster in Brazilian history.

Mr Schvartsman said the dam had a capacity of 2 million cubic meters and was being decommissioned.

Vale chief executive Fabio Schvartsman called it a "human tragedy" and said a German company, hired to assess the dam, indicated in the most recent report last September that it was stable.

All of those missing are Vale employees or contractors, the spokesman said.

New Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visited Minas Gerais and flew over the disaster area Saturday morning.

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The tailings have reached the administrative area, Vale said, where employees were working, meaning victims were likely Vale employees.

The president plans to tour the area later.

Environmental groups and activists said the latest spill underscored a lack of regulation, and many promised to fight any further deregulation by Bolsonaro in Latin America's largest nation. "It's unacceptable that government and mining companies haven't learned anything".

The rivers of mining waste are raising fears of widespread contamination.

The Feijao mine is one of four in Vale's Paraoeba complex, which includes two processing plants and produced 26 million tonnes of iron ore in 2017, or about 7 per cent of Vale's total output, according to information on the company's website. However, a United Nations report found that the waste from the 2015 disaster "contained high levels of toxic heavy metals".

Vale is Brazil's largest mining company.

US-listed shares of Vale fell as much as 10% following the incident.

Bolsonaro, who assumed power January 1, planned to tour the area aby helicopter on Saturday.

The broken dam in Brumadinho, Brazil, January 25, 2019.

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