The death toll from Friday’s dam collapse in southeastern Brazil rose to 58 Sunday — a number sure to climb with at least 300 people feared buried under tons of mud.
Rescue operations were briefly halted Sunday as officials feared a breach in another dam in the city of Brumadinho. Residents were told to get ready to evacuate before that dam was found to be secure.
The dam owned by Brazil’s Vale mining company collapsed Friday, sending water and mud over hundreds of mine workers enjoying a lunch break.
Brazilian judicial authorities have frozen some $3 billion of global mining giant Vale’s assets since Friday. The company has also been hit with multiple fines as it comes under scrutiny for regulatory violations and pollution in the wake of the disaster.
The accident recalls a similar disaster in 2015, when another mining dam broke in the same state of Minas Gerais, killing 19 people. That dam was also administrated by Vale, along with Australian mining company BHP Billiton. The 2015 dam collapse released millions of tons of toxic iron waste along hundreds of kilometers, causing what is considered Brazil’s worst-ever environmental disaster.