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Brazilians losing hope

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BRUMADINHO, Brazil — Hope that loved ones had survived a tsunami of iron ore mine waste from a dam collapse in Brazil was turning to anguish and anger over the increasing likelihood that many of the hundreds of people missing had died.

“Everything was shaking and I saw huge trees and people disappearing under the mud,” said Emerson dos Santos, 30, sitting on the roof of his family home to protect what is left of their belongings from looters at the mud-hit area a day after the collapse of a dam at an iron-ore mine belonging to Brazil’s giant mining company Vale near the town of Brumadinho in the state of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil, on January 26, 2019. – Hopes were fading Saturday that rescuers would find more survivors from at least 300 missing after a dam collapse at a mine in southeastern Brazil, with nine bodies so far recovered. (Photo by Mauro Pimentel / AFP)

By Saturday night, when authorities called off rescue efforts until daybreak, the death toll stood at 40 dead with up to 300 people estimated to be missing. Throughout the day, helicopters flew low over areas buried by mud and firefighters worked to get to structures by digging.

A damaged house is seen at the mud-covered area a day after the collapse of a dam at an iron-ore mine belonging to Brazil’s giant mining company Vale near the town of Brumadinho in the state of Minas Gerias in southeastern Brazil, on January 26, 2019. – Hopes were fading Saturday that rescuers would find more survivors from at least 300 missing after a dam collapse at a mine in southeastern Brazil, with nine bodies so far recovered. (Photo by Mauro Pimentel / AFP)

Employees of the mining complex owned and operated by Brazilian mining company Vale were eating lunch Friday afternoon when the dam gave way.

Throughout Saturday, scores of families in the city of Brumadinho desperately awaited word on their loved ones as Romeu Zema, governor of Minas Gerais state, said that at this point most recovery efforts would entail pulling out bodies.

People from the community of Parque da Cachoeira look at debris in the mud-hit area a day after the collapse of a dam at an iron-ore mine belonging to Brazil’s giant mining company Vale near the town of Brumadinho in the state of Minas Gerias in southeastern Brazil, on January 26, 2019. – Hopes were fading Saturday that rescuers would find more survivors from at least 300 missing after a dam collapse at a mine in southeastern Brazil, with nine bodies so far recovered. (Photo by Mauro Pimentel / AFP)

The flow of waste reached the nearby community of Vila Ferteco and an occupied Vale administrative office. On Saturday, rooftops poked above an extensive field of the mud, which also cut off roads. After the dam collapse, some were evacuated from Brumadinho. Other residents of the affected areas barely escaped with their lives.

AP

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