Brazil: Health concerns mount as death toll rises in dam collapse

Brumadinho: The death toll in Vale-owned tailings dam collapse here has gone up to 142, with 194 people still missing in the aftermath of January 25 tragedy.

Only 122 of the deceased have been identified yet, Xinhua quoted local authorities as saying. A total of 194 people still remain missing as 400 workers continue rescue efforts to retrieve bodies three weeks after the collapse.

Meanwhile, the five arrested engineers and geologists have been released after being granted a habeas corpus by Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice. They had reportedly signed documents attesting to the dam’s safety, which had led to their arrest following the mishap.

As the mining waste continues to flow into the Paraopeba River, experts have warned that the water body is virtually dead, sending alarm bells ringing for areas that depend on the river as their sole source of water.

Authorities also fear the outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases like yellow fever and dengue like in 2015 when another Vale-owned dam in Mariana had collapsed.

The devastating incident in 2015 had also triggered an environmental crisis as toxic waste polluted neighbouring rivers, before flushing into the Atlantic Ocean. A total of 19 people had lost their lives in what came to be known as the worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history.