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Arrests in Brazil dam disaster, dead fish wash up downstream

Published
A Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous woman points toward the Paraopeba River as she speaks to a member of the Brazilian Environmental Institute (IBAMA) in her village, in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Mining giant Vale representatives insisted that the slow-moving mud spreading down the Paraopeba River following the Jan. 25 collapse is composed mostly of silica, or sand, and is non-toxic, but environmental groups contend the iron ore mine waste contains high levels of iron oxide that could cause irreversible damage. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

BRUMADINHO, Brazil (AP) — Authorities arrested five people Tuesday in connection with the collapse of a Brazilian mine dam, while the death toll rose to at least 84 and the carcasses of fish floated along the banks of a river downstream that an indigenous community depends on for food and water.

The dam that held back iron ore waste, owned and operated by big mining company Vale SA, collapsed Friday, burying a company cafeteria and other Vale buildings and inundating part of the small southeastern city of Brumadinho.

Grieving relatives buried some of the victims in Brumadinho and rescue teams continued a delicate search through swaths of muck for more victims or survivors.

Lt. Flavio Godinho of the Minas Gerais state civil defense agency said Tuesday evening that the number of confirmed dead had risen to 84 from 65. He said the number of missing stood at 276.

The dead fish and trash were seen by a reporting team for The Associated Press about 18 kilometers (11 miles) downstream from the dam along the banks of the Paraopeba River.

The Pataxo Indians living alongside the river who use it to fish, bathe and gather water for the plants they cultivate as food were told by Brazilian environmental officials that they should no longer do so, said Hayo, the village chief who goes by one name.

"We used the river to take baths, to fish, to water our plants and now we can't do any of that," said Hayo, wearing a large feathered headdress and a red and black-beaded necklace. "We can't even water our plants because they say it damages the soil."

Two agents with the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, the country's environmental enforcement agency, took water samples and talked with tribe members but said they were not authorized to speak about their findings.

In a statement sent to The Associated Press on Tuesday, the agency said it asked Vale to "remove the dead fish, which are having an impact on the indigenous population."

The statement gave no details about the water tests and did not say whether tribal members had been told the water was unhealthy.

The signs of possible ecological consequences came as the arrests of company workers with links to the dam were made in Sao Paulo and in the state of Minas Gerais.

Three of the arrested worked for Vale, the company said, adding that it was cooperating with investigating authorities.

A German company that has inspected the dam said two of its employees were arrested. The Munich-based TUEV Sued company declined to specify whether the arrested staff were from its German headquarters or its Brazilian branch.

In ordering the arrests, Minas Gerais state judge Perla Saliba Brito wrote that the disaster could have been avoided.

It's not believable that "dams of such magnitude, run by one of the largest mining companies in the world, would break suddenly without any indication of vulnerability," the judge wrote in the decision, according to news portal UOL.

Authorities said the five will be detained for 30 days while officials investigate possible criminal responsibility.

At a cemetery in Brumadinho, 15 freshly dug graves awaited the remains of some of those killed.

Wailing in grief at the cemetery was the wife of Edgar Carvalho Santos, one of the mining company's workers whose body has been found.

"He did not deserve this, he did not deserve it!" she sobbed.

Friends and family members prevented reporters from approaching the woman.

One woman told Santos' wife that "this was not a tragedy, it's a crime." It was a sign of the growing anger directed at Vale over the disaster.

Vale is the world's largest producer of iron ore, which is the raw ingredient for steel.

The company is one of Brazil's largest businesses and a key employer in Brumadinho, but many residents have complained that a siren which should have gone off to warn people to evacuate never sounded Friday.

Military police Col. Evandro Borges told reporters that most of the people missing were Vale employees.

Many employees were eating lunch when the dam collapsed, burying a cafeteria and other company buildings.

The company's American depository shares on the New York Stock Exchange were up 3 percent Tuesday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange, to $11.54 each, after falling nearly 18 percent on Monday.

___

Associated Press writer Marcelo Silva da Sousa reported this story in Brumadinho and AP writer Peter Prengaman reported from Rio de Janeiro. Video journalist Renato Domingues and AP photographer Leo Correa in Brumadinho contributed to this report.

A dead fish floats in the Paraopeba River, full of mud that was released by the collapse of a mining company dam near a community of the Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous people in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Mining giant Vale representatives insisted that the slow-moving mud spreading down the Paraopeba River following the Jan. 25 collapse is composed mostly of silica, or sand, and is non-toxic, but environmental groups contend the iron ore mine waste contains high levels of iron oxide that could cause irreversible damage. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Friends and relatives carry the coffin with the body of Vale SA contractor Edmayra Samara, victim of the collapsed dam, during her burial in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow
Hayo, chief of the Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous community, walks toward the Paraopeba River days after the collapse of a mining company dam, near his village in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Mining giant Vale representatives insisted that the slow-moving mud spreading down the Paraopeba River following the Jan. 25 collapse is composed mostly of silica, or sand, and is non-toxic, but environmental groups contend the iron ore mine waste contains high levels of iron oxide that could cause irreversible damage. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Friends and relatives carry the coffin with the body of Vale SA contractor Edmayra Samara, victim of the collapsed dam, during her burial in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow
Hayo, chief of the Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous community, stands over the Paraopeba River on a rail bridge near his village in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Mining giant Vale representatives insisted that the slow-moving mud spreading down the Paraopeba River following the Jan. 25 collapse is composed mostly of silica, or sand, and is non-toxic, but environmental groups contend the iron ore mine waste contains high levels of iron oxide that could cause irreversible damage. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Friends and relatives attend the burial of Vale SA employee Edgar Carvalho Santos, victim of the collapsed dam, in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019.  Officials said the death toll was expected to grow
Cemetery workers prepare burial sites for the victims from the collapsed dam, in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow
Cemetery workers prepare burial sites for the victims from the collapsed dam in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow
Gervasio de Sousa, a Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous man, poses for the portrait in his indigenous community near to the Paraopeba River, which was affected by a mining company dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019.
Friends and relatives carry the coffin with the body of Vale SA contractor Edmayra Samara, victim of the collapsed dam, during her burial in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow
Friends and relatives carry the coffin with the body of Vale SA contractor Edmayra Samara, victim of the collapsed dam, during her burial in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow "exponentially," since no had been rescued alive since Saturday. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
A woman covered in mud protests against Brazilian mining company Vale at the entrance of the company office, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. There is mounting anger directed at Vale amid questions about the area's largest employer following an apparent lack of a warning siren ahead of Friday's collapse of a dam at one of its dams that has killed dozens. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
A woman covered in mud protests against Brazilian mining company Vale at the entrance of the company office, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. There is mounting anger directed at Vale amid questions about the area's largest employer following an apparent lack of a warning siren ahead of Friday's collapse of a dam at one of its dams that has killed dozens. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
A Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous woman points toward the Paraopeba River as she speaks to a member of the Brazilian Environmental Institute (IBAMA) in her village, in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Mining giant Vale representatives insisted that the slow-moving mud spreading down the Paraopeba River following the Jan. 25 collapse is composed mostly of silica, or sand, and is non-toxic, but environmental groups contend the iron ore mine waste contains high levels of iron oxide that could cause irreversible damage. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
A Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous woman points toward the Paraopeba River as she speaks to a member of the Brazilian Environmental Institute (IBAMA) in her village, in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Mining giant Vale representatives insisted that the slow-moving mud spreading down the Paraopeba River following the Jan. 25 collapse is composed mostly of silica, or sand, and is non-toxic, but environmental groups contend the iron ore mine waste contains high levels of iron oxide that could cause irreversible damage. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Mud hand prints are placed on a glass window, during a protest at the door of the Brazilian mining company Vale, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019.  There is mounting anger directed at Vale amid questions about the area's largest employer following an apparent lack of a warning siren ahead of Friday's collapse of a dam at one of its dams that has killed dozens. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
Mud hand prints are placed on a glass window, during a protest at the door of the Brazilian mining company Vale, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. There is mounting anger directed at Vale amid questions about the area's largest employer following an apparent lack of a warning siren ahead of Friday's collapse of a dam at one of its dams that has killed dozens. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
A tree is seen in a mud flooded area days after a dam collapsed in Brumadinho, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Firefighters on Monday carefully moved over treacherous mud, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, in search of survivors or bodies, four days after a dam collapse that buried mine buildings and surrounding neighborhoods with iron ore waste. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
A tree is seen in a mud flooded area days after a dam collapsed in Brumadinho, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Firefighters on Monday carefully moved over treacherous mud, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, in search of survivors or bodies, four days after a dam collapse that buried mine buildings and surrounding neighborhoods with iron ore waste. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
A woman covered in mud protests against Brazilian mining company Vale at the entrance of the company office, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. There is mounting anger directed at Vale amid questions about the area's largest employer following an apparent lack of a warning siren ahead of Friday's collapse of a dam at one of its dams that has killed dozens. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
A woman covered in mud protests against Brazilian mining company Vale at the entrance of the company office, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. There is mounting anger directed at Vale amid questions about the area's largest employer following an apparent lack of a warning siren ahead of Friday's collapse of a dam at one of its dams that has killed dozens. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
A woman covered in mud, kneels next to a graffiti that reads in Potuguese
A woman covered in mud, kneels next to a graffiti that reads in Potuguese "Assassins," during a protest at the door of the Brazilian mining company Vale, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. There is mounting anger directed at Vale amid questions about the area's largest employer following an apparent lack of a warning siren ahead of Friday's collapse of a dam at one of its dams that has killed dozens. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
Rescue workers walk on a rail bridge that was destroyed after a dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Firefighters on Monday carefully moved over treacherous mud, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, in search of survivors or bodies, four days after a dam collapse that buried mine buildings and surrounding neighborhoods with iron ore waste. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Rescue workers walk on a rail bridge that was destroyed after a dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Firefighters on Monday carefully moved over treacherous mud, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, in search of survivors or bodies, four days after a dam collapse that buried mine buildings and surrounding neighborhoods with iron ore waste. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Friends and relatives carry the coffin with the body of Vale SA contractor Edmayra Samara, victim of the collapsed dam, during her burial in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow
Friends and relatives carry the coffin with the body of Vale SA contractor Edmayra Samara, victim of the collapsed dam, during her burial in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow "exponentially," since no had been rescued alive since Saturday. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Gervasio de Sousa, a Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous man, poses for the portrait in his indigenous community near to the Paraopeba River, which was affected by a mining company dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019.
Gervasio de Sousa, a Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous man, poses for the portrait in his indigenous community near to the Paraopeba River, which was affected by a mining company dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. "This is not good. We always had fish to feed ourselves. Now we can't even step in the water," said the 93-old-year. Mining giant Vale representatives insisted that the slow-moving mud spreading down the Paraopeba River following the Jan. 25 collapse is composed mostly of silica, or sand, and is non-toxic, but environmental groups contend the iron ore mine waste contains high levels of iron oxide that could cause irreversible damage. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Firefighters looks on as they work on a site where a body as found inside as vehicle stuck in the mud, days after a dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Firefighters on Monday carefully moved over treacherous mud, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, in search of survivors or bodies four days after a dam collapse that buried mine buildings and surrounding neighborhoods with iron ore waste. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Firefighters looks on as they work on a site where a body as found inside as vehicle stuck in the mud, days after a dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Firefighters on Monday carefully moved over treacherous mud, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, in search of survivors or bodies four days after a dam collapse that buried mine buildings and surrounding neighborhoods with iron ore waste. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Friends and relatives attend the burial of Vale SA employee Edgar Carvalho Santos, victim of the collapsed dam, in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019.  Officials said the death toll was expected to grow
Friends and relatives attend the burial of Vale SA employee Edgar Carvalho Santos, victim of the collapsed dam, in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow "exponentially," since no had been rescued alive since Saturday. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Hayo, chief of the Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous community, stands over the Paraopeba River on a rail bridge near his village in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Mining giant Vale representatives insisted that the slow-moving mud spreading down the Paraopeba River following the Jan. 25 collapse is composed mostly of silica, or sand, and is non-toxic, but environmental groups contend the iron ore mine waste contains high levels of iron oxide that could cause irreversible damage. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Hayo, chief of the Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous community, stands over the Paraopeba River on a rail bridge near his village in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Mining giant Vale representatives insisted that the slow-moving mud spreading down the Paraopeba River following the Jan. 25 collapse is composed mostly of silica, or sand, and is non-toxic, but environmental groups contend the iron ore mine waste contains high levels of iron oxide that could cause irreversible damage. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
A firefighter looks for victims in the mud, days after a dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Firefighters on Monday carefully moved over treacherous mud, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, in search of survivors or bodies four days after a dam collapse that buried mine buildings and surrounding neighborhoods with iron ore waste. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
A firefighter looks for victims in the mud, days after a dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Firefighters on Monday carefully moved over treacherous mud, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, in search of survivors or bodies four days after a dam collapse that buried mine buildings and surrounding neighborhoods with iron ore waste. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Hayo, chief of the Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous community, walks toward the Paraopeba River days after the collapse of a mining company dam, near his village in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Mining giant Vale representatives insisted that the slow-moving mud spreading down the Paraopeba River following the Jan. 25 collapse is composed mostly of silica, or sand, and is non-toxic, but environmental groups contend the iron ore mine waste contains high levels of iron oxide that could cause irreversible damage. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Hayo, chief of the Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous community, walks toward the Paraopeba River days after the collapse of a mining company dam, near his village in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Mining giant Vale representatives insisted that the slow-moving mud spreading down the Paraopeba River following the Jan. 25 collapse is composed mostly of silica, or sand, and is non-toxic, but environmental groups contend the iron ore mine waste contains high levels of iron oxide that could cause irreversible damage. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Rescue workers walk on a rail bridge that was destroyed after a dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Firefighters on Monday carefully moved over treacherous mud, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, in search of survivors or bodies, four days after a dam collapse that buried mine buildings and surrounding neighborhoods with iron ore waste. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Rescue workers walk on a rail bridge that was destroyed after a dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Firefighters on Monday carefully moved over treacherous mud, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, in search of survivors or bodies, four days after a dam collapse that buried mine buildings and surrounding neighborhoods with iron ore waste. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Cemetery workers prepare burial sites for the victims from the collapsed dam in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow
Cemetery workers prepare burial sites for the victims from the collapsed dam in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow "exponentially," since no had been rescued alive since Saturday. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
A rescue worker discards a vehicle's seat as he works on a site where a body was found inside the vehicle, days after a dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Firefighters on Monday carefully moved over treacherous mud, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, in search of survivors or bodies four days after a dam collapse that buried mine buildings and surrounding neighborhoods with iron ore waste. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
A rescue worker discards a vehicle's seat as he works on a site where a body was found inside the vehicle, days after a dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Firefighters on Monday carefully moved over treacherous mud, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, in search of survivors or bodies four days after a dam collapse that buried mine buildings and surrounding neighborhoods with iron ore waste. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Cemetery workers prepare burial sites for the victims from the collapsed dam, in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow
Cemetery workers prepare burial sites for the victims from the collapsed dam, in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Officials said the death toll was expected to grow "exponentially," since no one had been rescued alive since Saturday. (AP Photo/Andre Penner
A dead fish floats in the Paraopeba River, full of mud that was released by the collapse of a mining company dam near a community of the Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous people in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Mining giant Vale representatives insisted that the slow-moving mud spreading down the Paraopeba River following the Jan. 25 collapse is composed mostly of silica, or sand, and is non-toxic, but environmental groups contend the iron ore mine waste contains high levels of iron oxide that could cause irreversible damage. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
A dead fish floats in the Paraopeba River, full of mud that was released by the collapse of a mining company dam near a community of the Pataxo Ha-ha-hae indigenous people in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Mining giant Vale representatives insisted that the slow-moving mud spreading down the Paraopeba River following the Jan. 25 collapse is composed mostly of silica, or sand, and is non-toxic, but environmental groups contend the iron ore mine waste contains high levels of iron oxide that could cause irreversible damage. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)