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Tags: LT | Brazil | Dam Collapse | 1st Ld | Writethru

Brazilians Pay Homage to Victims of Dam Collapse

Brazilians Pay Homage to Victims of Dam Collapse

Friday, 01 February 2019 01:38 PM EST

BRUMADINHO, Brazil (AP) — A week after the deadly collapse of a mining dam in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, dozens of people turned up to pay homage to the 110 victims killed and 238 who are still missing.

A ceremony was held at the site of the disaster around 1 p.m. local time, the hour at which the dam breached a week ago, unleashing a destructive torrent of reddish-brown mining waste.

Backhoes stopped digging in the mud, and rescuers looking for survivors in the thick mine tailings all looked to the sky as 10 fire department and police helicopters released flower petals on the iron ore mining complex.

A priest also gave a brief mass in front of a tall pink cross that had been planted in the mud.

"It is totally devastated, it looks like there has been a war," said 23-year-old Edvan Cristi, who lost friends who worked at the mine.

A spokesman for the Minas Gerais Fire Department said after the ceremony that authorities were not calling off the search for bodies although no one had been found alive since Saturday.

On Friday, operations seemed to enter a new phase as firefighters began excavating the mud with heavy machinery. So far, efforts have been focused on finding bodies closer to the surface and did not involve backhoes.

The tailings, which contain toxic levels of iron oxide, plastered 252 hectares (623 acres) of the adjacent city of Brumadinho and the Paraopeba River.

Vale SA, the company that ran and operated the dam, said the residues did not have dangerous levels of metals, but experts argue that the impact on the environment could be irreversible.

Authorities and environmental organizations have begun testing water quality around the mining complex, while state and federal authorities have told residents to refrain from using water directly from the Paraopeba or 100-meters (109 yards) around it.

The Paraopeba River flows into the much larger Sao Francisco River, which could also be contaminated.

Hundreds of municipalities and larger cities such as Petrolina, 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) from Brumadinho, get drinking water from the Sao Francisco River.

The wave of mud is currently moving toward the Sao Francisco at about 1 kph (.62 mph), but officials hope the Retiro Baixo hydroelectric dam and plant complex about 300 kilometers (185 miles) from Brumadinho will prevent the mud from contaminating it.

The tailing is expected to reach the Retiro Baixo dam between Feb. 5 and Feb. 10.

A peaceful walk in homage to the victims is expected to take place later Friday in the city center of Brumadinho.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


GlobalTalk
A week after the deadly collapse of a mining dam in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, dozens of people turned up to pay homage to the 110 victims killed and 238 who are still missing.A ceremony was held at the site of the disaster around 1 p.m. local time, the hour at...
LT,Brazil,Dam Collapse,1st Ld,Writethru
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2019-38-01
Friday, 01 February 2019 01:38 PM
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