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By Jeffrey T. Lewis, Samantha Pearson and Paulo Trevisani
SÃO PAULO -- About 200 people are missing after a dam belonging to Brazilian miner Vale burst in the southeast of the country on Friday, engulfing homes, cars, and the company's own offices in a sea of waste sludge.
Several people have been injured, but so far there are no confirmed deaths, according to firefighters working to rescue victims in the town of Brumadinho in Minas Gerais state.
The incident comes less than four years after another dam owned jointly by iron ore giant Vale and BHP Group in the same state also burst, killing 19 people and leaving hundreds homeless in one of the country's worst environmental disasters.
Vale said it would give further details of Friday's incident at a press conference scheduled after 4 p.m. ET. "I don't have words to describe my suffering, sadness and disappointment with what just happened," Fabio Schvartsman, Vale's chief executive, said in a short video, adding that the company had made an "immense effort" to shore up its dams, especially after the 2015 disaster.
A spokesman for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that Mr. Bolsonaro has established a crisis cabinet and asked the ministries of mining, environment, regional development and defense to coordinate with state authorities in their response to the accident. Mr. Bolsonaro will travel to the site Saturday morning, according to the spokesman.
Brazilian news reports showed images of homes flattened by the flood from the dam, along with mud-filled rivers and washed-out roads, and said that victims pulled from the mud are being treated at a hospital in the nearby state capital of Belo Horizonte. Officials at that hospital weren't immediately available to confirm the reports.
Vale said spillage from the dam reached the company's administrative area and part of the community of Vila Ferteco, and that Vale employees might be among any victims.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 25, 2019 16:44 ET (21:44 GMT)
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