WATCH: (Scroll Down For Video) At least 15 people have tragically died and many more are still missing, after a damn in Brazil burst on Thursday.
The dam’s burst occured at an iron-ore mine jointly owned by Brazilian mining giant Vale and Australia’s BHP Biliton
In addition to the loss of life, nearby towns have been completely destroyed by the ensuing floods and mudslides.
Civil defense authorities could not confirm casualties and said numbers reported in Brazilian media were speculative. A city hall official confirmed one death and 16 injuries, adding that dozens more were still missing.
Brazilian army units nearby stood ready to help the search and rescue effort and the minister of national integration, Gilberto Occhi, planned to visit the state on Friday to provide assistance, according to a note from the presidency.
A statement from the city hall of Mariana, a city of about 40,000 people 300 kilometers (185 miles) north of Rio de Janeiro, said the dam ruptured at 4:20 p.m. in an area roughly 20 kilometers (over 12 miles) from the city center.
Andrew Mackenzie, the chief executive of BHP, told The Guardian in Melbourne: “Most of what happened there has been under the cloak of darkness. He added the company would “take all steps” to ensure the safety of the workers and communities affected by the disaster.
This latest tragedy comes as miners in producing countries are struggling, amid a collapse in prices of iron ore and other commodities due to concerns about demand from China, the world’s top consumer of industrial raw materials.