German company inspected ill-fated Brazilian dam before tragedy | News | DW | 28.01.2019
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German company inspected ill-fated Brazilian dam before tragedy

A Munich-based company is helping investigators following a deadly dam collapse in Brazil. Germany's leaders have sent condolences as the death toll and anger about the disaster grows.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed their condolences on Monday following a deadly dam collapse at the Corrego de Feijao mine in Brazil's southeast on Friday.

"It was with horror that I saw the terrible images of mudslides after the dam burst in Minas Gerais," Steinmeier wrote to the country's president, Jair Bolsonaro. "My thoughts are with the victims and the missing people and their families."

'Deep sadness'

As the confirmed death toll rose to 60, with up to 300 people missing, Merkel expressed her "deepest sympathy" to the Brazilians. She wrote to Bolsonaro that she had learned of the accident "with deep sadness." "I sincerely hope that more people can be saved."

Hope was fading, however, for further survivors. Millions of tons of reddish-brown sludge poured over the mine's surroundings and local neighborhoods last Friday, burying houses, cars and roads beneath them.

There were no survivors recovered on Sunday or Monday. 

Read more: Brazilian prosecutors file massive lawsuit over mine dam's deadly toxic spill

Rettungsarbeiten nach Dammbruch in Brasilien (Reuters/A. Machado)

Rescuers search a sea of reddish-brown mud which is up to 8 meters (24 feet) deep in some places

German safety review

Munich-based safety certifier TÜV Sued confirmed on Monday it conducted a review of dams last year for Vale, the world's biggest iron-ore miner which operates the Corrego de Feijao mine. The German company also said it carried out a dam safety inspection in September. 

TÜV Sued declined to provide further details about the reviews, but said it was "fully supporting the investigations and making all required documents available to the investigating authorities."

German exposure 

German insurer Allianz may have to cover some of the costs caused by the dam collapse, Reuters news agency reported on Monday.

Allianz's local reinsurer AGCS Brazil leads a consortium of reinsurers that assumed some risks from Vale's local insurers, the sources said. Allianz declined to comment on the exposure, which was earlier reported by insurance industry publication Versicherungsmonitor.

A rescue helicopter searches for victims (Reuters/W. Alves)

A rescue helicopter searches for victims

Vale under fire 

Considerable anger about the collapse was directed at Vale. Brazilian Senator Renan Calheiros called for its directors to step down, and the country's attorney general said company executives could be held personally responsible. 

Calheiros asked Justice Minister Sergio Moro "how many people should die before federal police changes Vale management, before key evidence disappears." Moro headed Brazil's largest-ever corruption probe. 

Vale was already under fire over another dam collapse, in 2015, which killed 19 people and released millions of tons of toxic waste in the same area. Shares in the company plunged 20 percent on the Sao Paulo stock exchange on Monday.

kw/rt (AP, Reuters) 

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