200 People Missing in Brazil After Mining Dam Bursts, Officials Say

200 People Missing in Brazil After Mining Dam Bursts, Officials Say

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — A mining dam burst in southeastern Brazil on Friday, flooding nearby homes, submerging cars and buses under a river of sludge and leaving 200 people missing, according to the rescue workers searching for them.

The accident, in the town of Brumadinho, comes just three years after a dam burst in Mariana, 75 miles away, killing 19 people and causing one of the worst environmental disasters in Brazil’s history.

The Brumadinho dam, owned by the iron ore mining giant Vale S.A., ruptured in the early afternoon on Friday, spilling murky water filled with mining waste into an administrative area where employees were working and a neighborhood where they lived.

The regional Civil Defense office said in a statement that 51 firefighters were on the site with six helicopters searching for survivors. The office estimated that 200 people were missing.

Brazilian television broadcast images of a woman waist-deep in mud being rescued by a helicopter, and aerial video of huge rivers of mud rushing over roads and burying homes and trees.

President Jair Bolsonaro announced on Twitter that he was sending the chief of civil defense as well as the minister of mines and energy to the site.

“Our main concern at this moment is attending to potential victims of this grave tragedy,” he said.

Brumadinho, a town of 38,000, is best known for the Inhotim contemporary art and botanical gardens complex, founded there in 2004. The complex was not damaged by the flooding, but it was evacuated and closed to the public shortly after the dam burst.

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