Dam Burst in Brazil Sparks Questions Amid Casualties and Damage 

Investigators in Brazil are probing the environmental and human toll wrought by the largest mining dam collapse in the country's history. 

by Sam Blum

Rescue workers in Brazil continue to pull bodies from the wreckage incurred by an enormous mining dam collapse in the country’s southeastern state of Minas Gerais, which ushered intense floods into neighboring communities when it burst on Friday.

Video captured from the scene shows wave after wave of brown water battering the surrounding area, sending volumes of murky dirt and mist into the air:

The dam collapse, which happens to be the global-mining industry’s largest ever, has so far killed six people, authorities note.

The village of Bento Rodrigues, home to 600 residents, was engulfed by walls of water infused with mining waste last Friday. Since then, it’s been all but erased and many locals fear their homes will never be the same.

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Tweets from journalists on assignment in Brazil show a mud-swaddled landscape recovering from the unexpected trauma:

Reports from Bento Rodrigues claim that the village has been mostly destroyed.

Prosecutors have sighted negligence as the root cause for the dam collapse. Carlos Eduardo Ferreira Pinto, a state prosecutor, says that Vale and BHP Billiton Ltd, the companies which co-own the mining facility, may have compromised the system by placing waste from its iron-ore mines into the reservoir at the mining facility.

Brazilian regulators have taken the disaster as motivation to press for tougher mining laws, aimed primarily at Vale, which is the third largest mining company in the world. Many officials in Brazil fear that current legislation is outweighed by the towering stature and power of mining companies in the country.

The companies in charge of the joint-venture which owns the facility are Brazilian mining company Vale SA and Australia’s BHP Billiton Ltd: both corporations have remained quiet about the disaster th occurred on their watch.

Going forward, officials are asking for clarity amid the confusion, as rescue efforts persist into the week. Duarte Junior, mayor of Marianna, a town that’s leading rescue efforts, said:

“We need BHP and Vale to take responsibility for this tragedy,”