Brazilian firefighters and Israeli rescue workers carefully moved Monday over treacherous mud - sometimes walking, sometimes crawling - during their search for survivors or bodies following a dam collapse that buried buildings for an iron ore mining complex and inundated nearby neighbourhoods with ore waste.
Three employees of Brazilian miner Vale SA and two other engineers working on behalf of the company have been arrested, deepening a crisis for the company after another deadly disaster at one of its mines.
Brazilian authorities arrested five people Tuesday in connection with a dam collapse that killed at least 65 people and left almost 300 missing, and dead fish were seen downstream floating at the banks of a river that an indigenous community depends on for food and water.
"The top priority of the company right now is to support the rescue efforts and to help preserve and protect the lives of direct employees, third-party employees and local communities", the statement added.
Three employees of Vale and two of the German company TUeV Sued, which had tested dams at the Vale mine a year ago, were arrested on Tuesday.
Minas Gerais state investigators also issued seven search warrants on suspicion of murder, falsification of documents and environmental crimes, a judge's decision showed.
The confirmed death toll rose to 60, with 292 people still missing according to the Minas Gerais state fire department.
The chief of an indigenous community said on January 29, 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. Vale declined to comment on the idea until after an afternoon meeting with the minister.
Sampaio said he has contributed to prosecutors' work so far on the new disaster, and over the weekend prosecutors will decide whether to create a new task force or expand the scope of the Samarco team.
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Brazilian officials have resumed the search for hundreds of missing people in the wake of a massive dam collapse, with firefighter crews returning to mud-covered areas after a several-hour suspension over fears that a second dam was at risk of breach.
Another dam administered by Vale and Australian mining company BHP Billiton collapsed in 2015 in the city of Mariana, Minas Gerais, resulting in 19 deaths and forcing hundreds from their homes.
But the Brumadinho dam was considered one with low risk of accidents.
The process is used by a large number of mining companies across the world, including Vale SA.
Prosecutors and politicians have not been impressed, however.
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. "It would not be a good signal to the market", presidential chief of staff Onyx Lorenzoni said in a news briefing.
"We know now that the chances of having survivors are minimal and that we will probably rescue bodies", state governor Romeu Zema said, the Observer wrote.
Sen. Renan Calheiros called for Vale's board of directors to step down and Attorney General Raquel Dodge told reporters that Vale executives could be held responsible.