Bento Rodrigues Mining Dam Collapse – Brazil

On 5 November 2015, two iron ore tailing dams collapsed in Minas Gerais State, Brazil, spilling liquid waste into the town of Bento Rodrigues. Nine people were killed and thousands have been affected. Bento Rodrigues is located in southeastern Brazil, with a population of 620.

The town hosts an iron ore mine, which created three dams storing waste materials left over from the ore processing. At the collapse, the dams flooded the city with toxic materials. Residents have been ordered to evacuate to higher ground, and there are concerns of further mudslides. The residents were forced to seek shelter without warning only when seeing the flood approaching. The rescue teams had difficulty locating and evacuating residents as helicopters could not reach them.

The mine is owned by Vale and BHP Billiton. Samarco, the company running the mine, has promised to minimize damages. It was reported that the third dam was secure and not expected to breach. Due to the toxic waste, water service was suspended in Minas Gerais and Espirito Santos states, affecting thousands.

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