Brazil dam collapse death toll rises to 121


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

Helicopters hover over an iron ore mining complex to release thousands of flower petals paying homage to the dozens of victims killed and scores of missing after a mining dam collapsed there a week ago, in Brumadinho, Brazil, Friday, Feb. 1, 2019.

Newly-released video footage shows the harrowing moment a mining dam collapsed, unleashing a powerful wave of waste that swept over everything in its path in Brazil.

The company that owns the ore mine, Vale SA, has been ordered to pay a fine of 250 million reals (US$66.32 million) for various violations that led to the collapse - one of the biggest environmental penalties in Brazil's history.

"An internal study showed the miner knew as recently as previous 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", Reuters reported. A state regulator said it was likely that liquefaction (when a solid loses its strength and behaves like a liquid) was the cause of the disaster.

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The most recent victims were found in a changing room that was buried by more than 20 metres of mud.

Dams holding mining waste, known as tailings, sometimes collapse for this reason.

Vale said it was also "fully cooperating" with authorities and that three of its workers had been arrested with two others "responsible for the audit company who testified to the stability" of that dam.

Aihara said rescue teams were focusing on an area believed to have been occupied by a locker room used by employees of mining company Vale SA. Authorities have frozen over United States dollars 3 billion in company assets for it to pay damages and compensation.