At least 15 people are dead, and 45 missing after a dam holding back waste water from an iron ore mine burst in Germano, south eastern Brazil. Authorities in the nearby town of Mariana said they were evacuating around 600 people from the area, which has been partially submerged and devastated by mudslides. The mine is operated by Samarco, a joint venture between Brazilian company Vale and Ango-Australian company BHP Billiton. A statement from Samarco said the cause of the dam burst had not been determined yet.
The dam held water and residue from mining work, a mixture that is often toxic. A Reuters report said this dam held back tailings, a mining waste product made up of metal filings, water and often, chemicals. The dam is located near the river Gualaxo de Norte, fuelling fears of water contamination as well.