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.

Andre Penner/AP Photo

Brazil issues 5 arrest warrants in deadly mine dam collapse

January 29, 2019 - 10:35 am
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Associated Press

BRUMADINHO, Brazil (AP) — Brazilian authorities issued arrest warrants Tuesday for five people in connection with a dam collapse that killed at least 65 people as it plastered part of a city with reddish-brown mud and iron ore mining waste.

The orders were issued in Sao Paulo and in the state of Minas Gerais, where the collapse happened. They came as rescue crews began a fifth day searching for survivors or bodies, and some families began burying their dead.

Local media reported the warrants included three employees of Vale, the mining company that owned and operated the waste dam that collapsed.

RELATED: Firefighters search mud after Brazil dam collapse; 60 dead

In a statement, Vale said it was collaborating with authorities in the investigation.

However, a spokeswoman couldn't immediately confirm that those being sought worked for the company.

In ordering the arrests, Minas Gerais 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.

The dam was part of an iron ore production complex. Vale is the world's largest producer of the ore, which is the raw ingredient for steel.