Death Toll From Dam Disaster in Brazil Climbs to 157 People

Hundreds evacuated after alert at mine run by Vale in Brazil

About 700 people were evacuated on Friday from two different towns in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais where a dam collapse last month killed at least 157 people, with almost 200 still missing and feared dead.

Those listed as missing are presumed dead, but not yet located under the layers of muddy mining waste released when the tailings dam broke apart in the town of Brumadinho on January 25.

Fire department spokesman Pedro Aihara said that the rescue operation is still going on despite rain, with 50 personnel and 16 excavators in the search for survivors.

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So far, the affected local residents cannot travel and relief supplies can only be transported by helicopters, he added.

"If we had modernized the legislation at the right time, if we had allowed a more modern (oversight) agency, we would have saved the lives of those people", said Viana.

Inhabitants of Pinheiros district, in Itatiaiuçu, Minas Gerais state (southeast), are leaving their homes Friday because of the risk of another dam collapsing on the ArcelorMittal steel producer's territory. Moreover, media have reported that Vale, the mining company which owns the dam, had been aware of tthe warning system problems at least two days prior to the accident.

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