Despair turns to anger over Brazilian dam disaster , Latest World News - The New Paper

Despair turns to anger over Brazilian dam disaster

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BRAZIL Grief over the hundreds of Brazilians feared lost in a mining disaster on Friday has quickly hardened into anger as victims' families and politicians say iron ore miner Vale SA and regulators have learned nothing from the recent past.

By Sunday night, firefighters in Minas Gerais state had confirmed 58 dead after a tailings dam broke, sending a torrent of sludge into the miner's offices and the town of Brumadinho.

Some 300 others are unaccounted for, and officials said the odds were slim that any would be found alive.

The disaster at the Corrego do Feijao mine came less than four years after a dam collapsed at a nearby mine run by Samarco Mineracao SA, a joint venture by Vale and BHP Billiton, killing 19 and filling a major river with toxic sludge.

While the 2015 Samarco disaster dumped about five times more mining waste, Friday's dam break was far more deadly as the wall of mud hit Vale's local offices, including a crowded cafeteria, and tore through a populated area downhill.

"The cafeteria was in a risky area," Mr Renato Simao de Oliveiras, 32, said while searching for his twin brother, a Vale employee, at an emergency response station. "Just to save money, even if it meant losing the little guy. ... These businessmen, they only think about themselves."

Chief Executive Fabio Schvartsman said facilities were built to code and equipment had shown the dam was stable two weeks earlier.

"I'm not a mining technician. I followed the technicians' advice and you see what happened. It didn't work," Mr Schvartsman said. "We are 100 per cent within all the standards, and that didn't do it."

Blowback from the disaster could threaten the plans of President Jair Bolsonaro to relax restrictions on mining.- REUTERS