BRUMADINHO, Brazil — Brazilian rescue crews returned to mud-covered flats Sunday to resume the search for hundreds of people missing in the wake of a dam collapse after the operation was suspended for several hours over fears that a second dam was at risk of breach.

The Civil Defense office in Minais Gerais state raised the confirmed death toll to 58, with up to 300 people still missing following the avalanche of iron ore waste from a mine Friday.

Earlier Sunday, authorities stopped the search and evacuated several neighborhoods in the southeastern city of Brumadinho that were within range of the second B6 dam owned by the Brazilian mining company Vale. An estimated 24,000 people were told to get to higher ground, but by the afternoon civil engineers said the second dam was no longer at risk.

“Get out searching!” a woman yelled at firefighters near a refugee set up in the center of Brumadinho. “They could be out there in the bush.”

Areas of water-soaked mud appeared to be drying out, which could help firefighters get to areas previously unreachable. Late Sunday, more than 100 Israeli soldiers and other personnel arrived with plans to join rescue and recovery efforts Monday.


Even before the brief suspension of rescue efforts, hope that loved ones had survived a tsunami of iron ore mine waste from Friday’s dam collapse was turning to anguish and anger over the increasing likelihood that many of the missing had died.

A cow sits stuck after a dam collapsed in Brumadinho, Brazil, on Sunday.

There was also mounting anger at Vale and questions about an apparent lack of an alarm system Friday.

Caroline Steifeld, who was evacuated, said she heard warning sirens Sunday, but no such alert on the day the dam collapsed.

“I only heard shouting, people saying to get out. I had to run with my family to get to higher ground, but there was no siren,” she said, adding that a cousin was still unaccounted for.

Several others made similar complaints. In an email, Vale told the AP that the area has eight sirens in the area, but “the speed in which the event happened made sounding an alarm impossible” in the dam that collapsed.

“I’m angry. There is no way I can stay calm,” Sonia Fatima da Silva said as she tried to get information about her son, who had worked at Vale for 20 years. “My hope is that they be honest. I want news, even if it’s bad.”

Da Silva said she last spoke to her son before he went to work Friday, when around midday a dam holding back mine waste collapsed, sending waves of mud for miles and burying much in its path.


She was one of dozens of people in Brumadinho who desperately awaited word on their loved ones.

Romeu Zema, the governor of Minas Gerais state, said that by now most recovery efforts will entail pulling out bodies.

The flow of waste reached the nearby community of Vila Ferteco and an occupied Vale administrative office. It buried buildings to their rooftops and an extensive field of the mud cut off roads.

Some residents barely escaped with their lives.

“I saw all the mud coming down the hill, snapping the trees as it descended. It was a tremendous noise,” said a tearful Simone Pedrosa, from the neighborhood of Parque Cachoeira, 5 miles from where the dam collapsed.

Pedrosa, 45, and her parents dashed to their car and drove to the highest point in the neighborhood.

“If we had gone down the other direction, we would have died,” she said. “I cannot get that noise out of my head. It’s a trauma I’ll never forget.”

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