Death toll in failed Brazil dam jumps to 121


The death toll from a dam collapse last week at a mining complex in Brazil's Brumadinho has risen to 121 as 226 people are still missing, according to officials.

At least 115 people are dead and there is little hope of recovering most of the missing.

Virtually all the dead and missing were workers at the iron ore mine, buried under an avalanche of sludgy mining waste when the dam collapsed above the facility's cafeteria and main administrative area.

The burst tailings dam at the Corrego do Feijao mine last Friday has ignited intense public anger against Vale, which was co-owner of Samarco, the previous dam that collapsed.

By Friday, the company said it was expanding its financial assistance to residents "who lived or carried out any rural or commercial activities in the Self-Saving Zone (ZAS) of the Emergency Action Plan for Mining Dams (PAEBM)".

An internal study showed the miner knew as recently as past year that some of the areas hit were at risk if its tailings dam burst, according to a report by Folha de S.Paulo newspaper.

"(The study) found that the mine restaurant, where many Vale workers were likely to have died, would be hit by toxic mud. The company has said the mud flow destroyed the sirens before they could sound the alarm.

Aerial view over mud and waste from the disaster caused by the dam spill in Brumadinho.

"This tragedy will be remembered not just here but all over Brazil", said 23-year-old Jonatan Silva Santos, who lost friends that worked at Vale.

The mining company said it had also begun safely treating the streets and fields of Brumandinho to prevent the spread of disease as an environmental group told the AP Thursday that it had set out to test the Paraopeba river's levels of toxicity.

Vale is linked to another dam disaster in the same region in 2015.