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The Latest: Death toll from dam collapse rises to 99

Published
This Jan. 29, 2019 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows mud flooding an area days after a mining company's dam collapsed, near Brumadinho, Brazil. As search-and-recovery efforts continued, authorities also worked to slow the reddish-brown mud that was heading down a small river with high concentrations of iron oxide, threatening to contaminate a much larger waterway that provides drinking water to communities in five of the country’s 26 states. (DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company via AP)

BRUMADINHO, Brazil (AP) — The Latest on the deadly collapse of a dam at a Brazil iron ore mining complex (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

A spokesman for the Minas Gerais state civil defense agency said Wednesday that the number of confirmed dead from the collapse of a dam in Brazil has risen to 99 from 84.

Lt. Flavio Godinho said the number of missing decreased to 259.

Authorities said a light rain today had temporarily suspended search and rescue efforts but not affected water levels.

The breach of Vale's dam in the Brazilian city of Brumadinho unleashed a torrent of reddish-brown mud containing toxic levels of iron oxide on Friday.

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5 p.m.

A spokesman for the Minas Gerais Fire Department in Brazil says it's still too early to say when the search for victims of the collapsed dam will be called off.

Pedro Aihara said it is increasingly difficult to locate additional remains. The number of missing stands at 276.

Police have identified 51 of the 84 people recovered from the mud.

Police inspector Arlen Bahia da Silva said that because of the "advanced state of decomposition of the bodies," forensic experts will have to resort to DNA tests and dental records to establish the other identities.

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4:30 p.m.

Environmental experts say mining companies should move away from wet mine tailings, which is the storage of waste in reservoirs.

The process is used by a large number of mining companies across the world, including Vale SA.

The breach of Vale's dam in the Brazilian city of Brumadinho unleashed a torrent of reddish-brown mud containing toxic levels of iron oxide on Friday.

Roberto Galery is a professor of mining engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais.

He said the storage of waste in water requires strict controls such as observance of water levels, filter efficiency, dam slope movement and seismic activity.

Some companies have turned to dry-stack tailings, which consists of filtering water out and stacking solid waste in piles.

It is a safer, more expensive technology, and Galery said the industry has been reluctant to embrace it.

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3:00 p.m.

Independent human rights experts working under a mandate from the U.N. Human Rights Council have called for a prompt and thorough investigation into the collapse of a dam at an iron ore complex in Brazil.

To date, 84 people have been confirmed dead and 276 are still missing.

A statement read: "We urge the Government to act decisively on its commitment to do everything in its power to prevent more such tragedies.

It cited another similar accident in November 2015, when a dam collapsed and killed 19 people in the same state of Minas Gerais.

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12:15 p.m.

A Brazilian family is digging through the mud with garden tools and their hands in search of a missing loved one.

The collapse of a dam holding mine waste on Friday led to a sea of reddish-brown mud that plastered several areas of the southeastern city of Brumadinho.

Teresa Ferreira Nascimento said Wednesday they were trying to find her brother, Paulo Giovane Dos Santos. They believe he is buried in his home.

She says: "We are trying to find his body to at least give him a dignified burial."

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9 a.m.

A torrent of muddy mining waste unleashed by a dam breach that killed at least 84 people in southeastern Brazil is now heading down a small river with high concentrations of iron oxide.

The waste threatens to contaminate a much larger river that provides drinking water to communities in five of the country's 26 states.

The release of the muddy waste has already turned the normally greenish water of the Parapoeba River brown about 11 miles (18 kilometers) downstream from the southeastern city of Brumadhinho, where the broken dam is.

The chief of an indigenous community said Tuesday that Brazilian environmental agents warned his community to stop fishing in the river, bathing in it and using its water for the plants they cultivate as food.

This Jan. 29, 2019 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows mud flooding an area days after a Jan. 25 mining company's dam collapsed, near Brumadinho, Brazil. As search-and-recovery efforts continued, authorities also worked to slow the reddish-brown mud that was heading down a small river with high concentrations of iron oxide, threatening to contaminate a much larger waterway that provides drinking water to communities in five of the country’s 26 states. (DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company via AP)
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)
Fish swim past mud that was released by the collapse of a mining company's dam, in a tributary that leads to Paraopeba River 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)
Fish swim past mud that was released by the collapse of a mining company's dam, in a tributary that leads to Paraopeba River 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)
Fish swim past mud that was released by the collapse of a mining company's dam, in the Paraopeba River 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)
Fish swim past mud that was released by the collapse of a mining company's dam, in the Paraopeba River 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 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)
This Jan. 29, 2019 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows mud flooding an area days after a Jan. 25 mining company's dam collapsed, near Brumadinho, Brazil. As search-and-recovery efforts continued, authorities also worked to slow the reddish-brown mud that was heading down a small river with high concentrations of iron oxide, threatening to contaminate a much larger waterway that provides drinking water to communities in five of the country’s 26 states. (DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company via AP)
This Jan. 29, 2019 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows mud flooding an area days after a Jan. 25 mining company's dam collapsed, near Brumadinho, Brazil. As search-and-recovery efforts continued, authorities also worked to slow the reddish-brown mud that was heading down a small river with high concentrations of iron oxide, threatening to contaminate a much larger waterway that provides drinking water to communities in five of the country’s 26 states. (DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company via AP)
A family embraces during a vigil for the victims of the collapsed mining company dam in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Authorities arrested five people Tuesday in connection with the collapse of the 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. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
A family embraces during a vigil for the victims of the collapsed mining company dam in Brumadinho, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Authorities arrested five people Tuesday in connection with the collapse of the 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. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
This Jan. 29, 2019 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows mud flooding an area days after a mining company's dam collapsed, near Brumadinho, Brazil. As search-and-recovery efforts continued, authorities also worked to slow the reddish-brown mud that was heading down a small river with high concentrations of iron oxide, threatening to contaminate a much larger waterway that provides drinking water to communities in five of the country’s 26 states. (DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company via AP)
This Jan. 29, 2019 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows mud flooding an area days after a mining company's dam collapsed, near Brumadinho, Brazil. As search-and-recovery efforts continued, authorities also worked to slow the reddish-brown mud that was heading down a small river with high concentrations of iron oxide, threatening to contaminate a much larger waterway that provides drinking water to communities in five of the country’s 26 states. (DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company via AP)
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)