Hope dims in Brazil for finding more survivors of dam collapse

World Today

Hope has dimmed in Brazil for finding any more survivors of a devastating dam collapse.

The death toll rose to at least 65 with more than 300 missing.

But, as CGTN’s Paulo Cabral reports, search and rescue operations moved on while the grim task of burying victims continued.

The people of Brumadinho are burying their dead. It is a time of grieving and sadness for families and friends. It is also one of closure for those who at least now know the fate of their loved ones, as most families still wait to hear from relatives missing and presumed dead.

Bodies were arriving daily for burial in Brumadinho. Sixty graves had already been dug and as they were put to rest, other victims were arriving.

One burial was for 58-year-old Mauricio de Lemos,who was working for Vale SA when he was caught and killed by the deluge of mining waste released after the company’s dam burst.

“They killed my father. They killed him. He did say there were works happening to fix a leakage in the dam. Now we want justice. The have to pay for what they have done. We saw the disaster in Mariana three years ago but we never thought it would happen in Brumadinho. I never thought it would happen to my father,” Juliana de Lemos, his daughter, cried.

Adriane Alves came here to show solidarity with the family of a friend who was killed. Adriane herself survived the disaster after being buried chest-deep in the mud.

“Actually I can’t really remember the moment the mud arrived in my house. All I remember is that I ran to my bedroom and stood against the wall. When I looked to the door, the mud was already coming in. It was the time of a blink… and I was already stuck. I thought more mud would come and I would die,” she said.

In a dramatic rescue, her husband pulled her out as she screamed, “pull me out please, pull me out for the love of God.”

Meanwhile, the search and rescue operations continued, even though authorities admitted chances of finding survivors were slim. The focus was mostly on recovering bodies.

A bus caught in the middle of the dam burst lied buried in mud since Friday, rescuers just able to reach the vehicle Monday and recover victims trapped inside.

The bodies recovered from the mud had to be airlifted because of the hazards of the soft, deep mud. Authorities say it is not certain that all bodies will be recovered as some may be submerged too deep. But, efforts continued to reach as many victims as possible and answer the desperate pleas of families crying out for closure.