34 dead, up to 300 feared missing after dam collapse

https://abcnews.go.com/International/34-dead-300-feared-missing-dam-collapse-brazil/story?id=60630590

At least 34 people are dead and up to 300 people have been reported missing after a dam collapsed in Brazil on Friday.

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More than 260 Vale mining company employees are among the missing, a spokesperson for the southeastern state of Minas Gerais said. Vale, the company that operates the dam, is the country’s largest mining company, according to The Associated Press. Vale employees were eating lunch on Friday afternoon when the dam collapsed.

PHOTO: Rescuers search for victims after the collapse of a dam, which belonged to Brazils giant mining company Vale, near the town of Brumadinho in southeastern Brazil, Jan. 25, 2019.Douglas Magno/AFP/Getty Images
Rescuers search for victims after the collapse of a dam, which belonged to Brazil’s giant mining company Vale, near the town of Brumadinho in southeastern Brazil, Jan. 25, 2019.

A spokesperson for Minas Gerais state’s Civil Defense said 189 people have been rescued so far. Twenty-three people have been hospitalized, the AP said.

PHOTO: Cattle are covered by mining debris after a mine collapsed near Brumadinho, Brazil, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.Leo Drumond/Nitro via AP
Cattle are covered by mining debris after a mine collapsed near Brumadinho, Brazil, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.
PHOTO: Men walk near damage caused by the breakage of a dam containing mineral waste from Vale, the worlds largest iron producer, in Brumadinho, municipality of Minas Gerais, Brazil, Jan. 25, 2019.Paulo Fonseca/EPA via Shutterstock
Men walk near damage caused by the breakage of a dam containing mineral waste from Vale, the world’s largest iron producer, in Brumadinho, municipality of Minas Gerais, Brazil, Jan. 25, 2019.
PHOTO: A helicopter flies over an area where a dam owned by Brazilian miner Vale SA burst, in Brumadinho, Brazil, Jan. 25, 2019.Washington Alves/Reuters
A helicopter flies over an area where a dam owned by Brazilian miner Vale SA burst, in Brumadinho, Brazil, Jan. 25, 2019.
PHOTO: A road is blocked after a dam collapsed near Brumadinho, Brazil, Jan. 25, 2019.Leo Drumond/Nitro via AP
A road is blocked after a dam collapsed near Brumadinho, Brazil, Jan. 25, 2019.

Rescuers have been digging through mud to find survivors.

“Part of the Vila Ferteco community has also been affected,” the mining company said in a statement. “Rescue and care of the wounded is being carried out on site by the Fire Department and Civil Defense. There is still no confirmation as to the cause of the accident.

“The top priority of the company right now is to support the rescue efforts and to help preserve and protect the lives of direct employees, third-party employees and local communities,” the statement added.

Nineteen people were killed when the village of Bento Rodrigues, also in Minas Gerais, was destroyed when a dam owned by Samarco, a joint venture by Vale and another Brazilian company, collapsed in November 2015. In the wake of that collapse, Samarco has provided $4.4 billion in compensation to the region over the past three years, according to Vale’s annual report.

ABC News’ Meghan Keneally contributed to this report.