Deadly Brazil dam burst had echoes of '15 disaster

Residents attend an ecumenical service in memory of victims of a collapsed tailings dam owned by Brazilian mining company Vale SA in Brumadinho Brazil

The death toll from the collapse of a Brazil dam in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais climbed to 121, with 226 still missing, the state's fire department said.

The casualty figure as of Thursday evening was 110 confirmed dead and 238 missing.

The emergency service for the state of Minas Gerais, where the disaster occurred near the town of Brumadinho, added that the search for bodies was ongoing.

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.

This is the second dam disaster in three years to hit Brazilian mining company Vale.

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Video has emerged on Brazilian TV showing the dramatic moment a tailings dam near the community of Brumadinho collapsed.

The burst tailings dam at the Corrego do Feijao mine last Friday has ignited intense public anger against Vale, which was co-owner of Samarco, the previous dam that collapsed. A 2015 mine tailings dam collapse at a site co-owned by the company caused widespread environmental damage.

An internal study showed the miner knew as recently as past 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. The dam, which held back mining waste, gave way and unleashed a wave of mud that buried buildings nearby.

"If we had known (what the problem was), maybe this tragedy would have never happened", The ministry's mining secretary Alexandre Vidigal said.

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.

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