Residents in Minas Gerais, Brazil, were given new evacuation orders days after a dam at the Samarco mine burst, the Agence France-Presse reported Wednesday. The deadly Nov. 5 collapse resulted in a flood of mud and mining waste that left at least six people dead, 21 missing and hundreds displaced.
The evacuation was ordered to keep people safe. "Families are being relocated so that they are in greater security," a spokesman for the Minas Gerais state government told AFP.
Workers are fixing the dam, and the repairs will "bring a greater measure of stability, mitigating the effects due to the (earlier) breaking and preventing possible future problems," according to a Wednesday statement from Samarco, the mining site operated by a company jointly owned by Brazil’s Vale S.A. and Australia’s BHP Billiton Ltd.
While there are at least six people confirmed dead from the tragic burst, up to 10 are feared dead. "The death toll will rise, for sure," Mariana Mayor Duarte Júnior told Reuters on Saturday. "Some people still aren't accounted for."
Hundreds of firefighters, police and military risked their lives to save survivors who were flooded with 62 million cubic meters of water and mud Thursday. "There is a risk of bodies not being found,” the AP reported firefighter Vinicius Teixeira told newspaper O Globo. "Whoever steps on it runs a great risk of sinking and drowning in this mud."