The Vale tailings dam broke on Friday afternoon, Jan. 25, in the region of Mario Campos and Corrego do Feijao, in the municipality of Brumadinho, in the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte.
The city was completely buried by the avalanche of mineral tailings. According to the Civil Defense, there are possible victims, and the residents living in the lower part of the city will be removed from the houses.
The initial concern of the authorities is with the human victims. According to information from firefighters, there could be as many as 200 missing peoples.
The breakup happened around 12:30 p.m., and surprised everyone. “We did not get it right. It’s all very tumultuous. The Vale mine is facing the Brumadinho Center. From the mine we can not see yet how far the mud has invaded, “said a source.
Vale reported that the tailings reached the company’s administrative area and part of the Vila Ferteco community. There is still no confirmation that there are injured at the site, according to the miner.
“Vale has activated the Fire Department and activated its Emergency Plan for Dams,” the company said in a statement. “Vale’s overall priority right now is to preserve and protect the lives of employees and members of the community.”
In social networks, the city prefecture issued an alert so that the population does not stay near the Rio Paraopeba. Residents report that access to the city is closed.
The government of the State of Minas Gerais reported that it sent a task force to follow up and take the first steps. Environment Minister Ricardo Salles ordered the dispatch of IBAMA emergency teams and coordination groups for the ministry to Brumadinho. Salles told that the Ministry of the Environment is coordinating the work together with the National Mining Agency and the State Secretariat for the Environment.
According to preliminary information, the dam that has been broken is used for recirculating water from the plant and containing tailings at emergency events. On Vale’s website, it is reported that it has about one million cubic meters.
The Inhotim Institute park was closed by guidance from the Fire Department. The measure is valid for employees and visitors and serves as a precaution, since the site was not hit by the mud.
The incident in Brumadinho occurs three years after Mariana’s tragedy, when a tailings dam from Vale’s Samarco company was broken. About 43.7 million m³ of mud, leaked from the miner’s facilities in the biggest environmental disaster in Brazil. The accident occurred on November 5, 2015. Nineteen people died, and cities in the region still suffer from the effects of toxic waste strewn in the mud.