LISTEN LIVE KPR - On Air: Listen Live to classical, jazz and NPR news Schedule LATEST
KPR 2 - On Air: Listen live to KPR's all talk-radio service, KPR2 Recordings

Share this page              

Mine Wastewater Floods Countryside In Brazil After 2 Dams Fail

The region where two mining dams failed in southeastern Brazil is seen in this satellite image. According to <a href="">Yahoo</a>, one of the dams that failed is at bottom right.

A region of southeastern Brazil is struggling to cope with a devastating flood, after two dams broke outside an iron ore mine and sent mineral waste and thick red mud over a large valley.

The wave of mud was more than 8 feet tall, according to local reports. Photos from the scene show the mud overwhelmed houses, ripping off rooftops and leaving a coating of mud — and in one case, setting a car atop a structure's walls.

The dams had been holding water and iron ore tailings when they failed Thursday afternoon near the towns of Mariana and Bento Rodrigues in the central region of Minas Gerais, about 280 miles north of Rio de Janeiro.

Emergency officials say that at least one death, of a mining company employee, has been confirmed in the aftermath. Brazilian media say the death toll is likely to rise Friday, as search crews resume their work.

The rural area that received the brunt of the flooding has about 500 to 600 residents, according to multiple reports. Hundreds of stranded people have been rescued, Globo TV reports. The agency adds that 16 mine workers were still missing.

The flow of mud and ore tailings has reached a city more than 60 miles away, according to local R7 Noticias.

The mine is operated by Samarco, which says the waste in the mud is "inert" and is mostly sand, with "no chemical that is harmful to health." The company adds that the most recent inspection of the dams by the regional environmental office took place in July, finding "total safety conditions."

According to both Globo and R7, the breaches occurred hours after tremors were reported at the site, citing a witness and a representative of the mining company.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

Tower Frequencies

91.5 FM KANU Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City
89.7 FM KANH Emporia
99.5 FM K258BT Manhattan
97.9 FM K250AY Manhattan (KPR2)
91.3 FM  KANV Junction City, Olsburg
89.9 FM K210CR Atchison
90.3 FM KANQ Chanute
96.1 FM K241AR Lawrence (KPR2)

See the Coverage Map for more details

Contact Us

Kansas Public Radio
1120 West 11th Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Download Map
785-864-4530 (Main Line)
888-577-5268 (Toll Free)