NEWS
27/01/2019 12:32 GMT | Updated 27/01/2019 12:34 GMT

Brazil Dam Collapse: Officials Suspend Search For Survivors

There are imminent concerns that another nearby dam could break.

SIPA USA/PA Images

Brazilian officials have suspended the search for survivors of a dam collapse amid fears that another nearby one could break.

At least 40 people have been confirmed dead and up to 300 missing, after a dam collapsed which was holding back mining waste in south-eastern Brazil.

The break caused a flow of muddy sludge to bury the dam’s cafeteria where hundreds of workers were eating lunch.

Local television channel TV Record showed a firefighters’ helicopter hovering inches off the ground as it pulled people covered in mud out of the sludge.

Romeu Zema, Governor of the state of Minas Gerais, said there was little chance of finding people alive.

He also warned that anyone found to be responsible for the disaster “would be punished”.

Photos showed the rooftops of structures poking above an extensive field of the mud, which also cut off roads.

Brazilian mining company Vale SA said the flow reached the community of Vila Ferteco and an administrative office, where employees were present, which “indicated the possibility of victims.”

President Jair Bolsonaro sent a tweet saying he lamented the incident and was sending the three cabinet ministers to the area.

Another dam administered by Vale and Australian mining company BHP Billiton collapsed in Mariana, Minas Gerais, in 2015, resulting in 19 deaths and displacing hundreds from their homes.

It is considered the worst environmental disaster in Brazilian history, with 60 million cubic metres of waste flooding rivers and eventually reaching the Atlantic Ocean.