The number of confirmed fatalities following the failure of a mine tailings dam in the southeastern Brazilian town of Brumadinho has reached 134.
Another 199 people remain unaccounted for following the January 25 disaster at the mine in Brumadinho, which is owned by Brazil’s Vale, the world’s largest iron-ore producer.
The task of finding and recovering additional bodies has already been almost completely resumed after work was suspended due to heavy rainfall.
The possibility of finding survivors is “minimal” and it is even possible that some bodies will never be recovered from the sea of mud left behind by the catastrophe, the fire department spokesman, Lt. Pedro Aihara, told reporters.
Heavy rains forced authorities to delay search tasks on Monday because of the risk that the mine waste still located around the failed dam will shift and cascade into the area where the rescue brigades are working.
Built in 1976, the dam had the capacity to store about 13 million cubic metres of mine tailings and water, which forcefully swept into and destroyed the Vale administrative area, along with houses, farms, inns and roads in just a few minutes.
The rescue work is complicated and proceeds slowly due to the complexity of the terrain after the tragedy, as there are areas covered by a layer of mine waste, mud and water 20 metres thick.
Meanwhile, Brazilian police arrested two engineers and three Vale workers accused of having allegedly fraudulently vouched for the sturdiness of the dam that ruptured in Brumadinho.