Brazil issues 5 arrest warrants in deadly mine dam collapse

Published 01-29-2019

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BRUMADINHO, Brazil (AP) - Brazilian authorities issued arrest warrants Tuesday for five people in connection with a dam collapse that killed at least 65 people and left nearly 300 missing as it plastered part of a small city with reddish-brown mud and iron ore mining waste.

The orders were issued in Sao Paulo and in the state of Minas Gerais, where the collapse happened last Friday. They came as rescue crews began a fifth day searching for survivors or bodies, and some families began burying their dead.

Three of the warrants were for people who worked for Vale SA, the mining company that owned and operated the waste dam that collapsed, according to the company. In a statement, Vale said it was cooperating with authorities in the investigation.

A German company that has inspected the dam said two of its employees had been arrested. The Munich-based TUEV company Sued declined to specify whether the arrested staff were from its German headquarters or its Brazilian branch.

In ordering the arrests, Minas Gerais judge Perla Saliba Brito wrote that the disaster could have been avoided.

It's not believable that "dams of such magnitude, run by one of the largest mining companies in the world, would break suddenly without any indication of vulnerability," the judge wrote in the decision, according to news portal UOL.

The dam was part of an iron ore production complex. Vale is the world's largest producer of the ore, which is the raw ingredient for steel.

Meanwhile, Col. Evandro Borges from the military police told reporters that the official death toll was 65, though more bodies had been recovered Tuesday and that an updated death toll would be provided later in the day. He said 288 remained missing, most of them Vale employees.

Many employees were eating lunch last Friday when the dam collapsed, burying a cafeteria and other company buildings.

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Prengaman reported from Rio de Janeiro.

The dam was part of an iron ore production complex. Vale is the world's largest producer of the ore, which is the raw ingredient for steel.

Meanwhile, Col. Evandro Borges from the military police told reporters that the official death toll was 65, though more bodies had been recovered Tuesday and that an updated death toll would be provided later in the day. He said 288 remained missing, most of them Vale employees.

Many employees were eating lunch last Friday when the dam collapsed, burying a cafeteria and other company buildings.

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Prengaman reported from Rio de Janeiro.

Many employees were eating lunch last Friday when the dam collapsed, burying a cafeteria and other company buildings.

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Prengaman reported from Rio de Janeiro.

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Rescue workers look for victims in the mud at a site where a hotel used to be, days after a dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Firefighters on Monday carefully moved over treacherous mud, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, in search of survivors or bodies four days after a dam collapse that buried mine buildings and surrounding neighborhoods with iron ore waste. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) - The Associated Press


Friends and relatives attend the burial of Vale SA employee Edgar Carvalho Santos, victim of the collapsed dam in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow "exponentially," since no had been rescued alive since Saturday. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) - The Associated Press


Friends and relatives attend the burial of Vale SA employee Edgar Carvalho Santos, victim of the collapsed dam, in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow "exponentially," since no had been rescued alive since Saturday. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) - The Associated Press


The widow of Vale SA employee Edgar Carvalho Santos, victim of the collapsed dam, center is conforted by friends and relatives during his burial, in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow "exponentially," since no had been rescued alive since Saturday. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) - The Associated Press


A woman covered in mud protests against Brazilian mining company Vale at the entrance of the company office, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. There is mounting anger directed at Vale amid questions about an apparent lack of a warning siren ahead of Friday's collapse of a dam at one of its dams that has killed dozens. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo) - The Associated Press


Women covered in mud light candles during a protest against Brazilian mining company Vale at the entrance of the company office, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. There is mounting anger directed at Vale amid questions about an apparent lack of a warning siren ahead of Friday's collapse of a dam at one of its dams that has killed dozens. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo) - The Associated Press


A firefighters drinks water as he works on a site where a body as found inside as vehicle stuck in the mud, days after a dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Firefighters on Monday carefully moved over treacherous mud, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, in search of survivors or bodies four days after a dam collapse that buried mine buildings and surrounding neighborhoods with iron ore waste. (AP Photo/Leo Correa) - The Associated Press


A woman covered in mud, kneels next to a graffiti that reads in Potuguese "Assassins," during a protest at the door of the Brazilian mining company Vale, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. There is mounting anger directed at Vale amid questions about the area's largest employer following an apparent lack of a warning siren ahead of Friday's collapse of a dam at one of its dams that has killed dozens. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo) - The Associated Press


A woman covered in mud protests against Brazilian mining company Vale at the entrance of the company office, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. There is mounting anger directed at Vale amid questions about the area's largest employer following an apparent lack of a warning siren ahead of Friday's collapse of a dam at one of its dams that has killed dozens. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo) - The Associated Press


A woman covered in mud protests against Brazilian mining company Vale at the entrance of the company office, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. There is mounting anger directed at Vale amid questions about the area's largest employer following an apparent lack of a warning siren ahead of Friday's collapse of a dam at one of its dams that has killed dozens. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo) - The Associated Press