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Rescuers search in deep mud after Brazil dam breach; 60 dead

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Rescuers search in deep mud after Brazil dam breach; 60 dead

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

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BRUMADINHO, Brazil (AP) — Brazilian firefighters and Israeli rescue workers carefully moved over treacherous mud — sometimes walking, sometimes crawling — during their search yesterday for survivors or bodies following a dam collapse that buried buildings for an iron ore mining complex and inundated nearby neighbourhoods with ore waste.

The confirmed death toll rose to 60, with 292 people still missing, according to the fire department in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais, where the dam is located.

The death toll was expected to grow “exponentially” after no one was found alive Sunday, the department said. That stood in contrast to the first two days of the disaster, when helicopters whisked people out of the mud.

Search efforts were extremely slow because of the treacherous sea of reddish-brown mud that surged out when the mine dam breached Friday afternoon. The mud was up 24 feet (eight metres) deep in some places, forcing searchers to carefully walk around the edges of the muck or slowly crawl onto it so they would not sink and drown.

Rescue teams yesterday morning focused their searches on areas where a bus was immersed and the cafeteria of mining company Vale, where many workers were eating lunch when the dam ruptured. Vale SA is the world’s largest producer of iron ore, the raw ingredient for making steel. The Brazilian company’s American depository shares plunged 18 per cent yesterday on the New York Stock exchange.

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