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About 300 people are missing after a dam collapsed at an iron ore mine in south-eastern Brazil.

The break caused a sea of muddy sludge that buried the dam’s cafeteria where workers were eating lunch.

Rescue teams used earth-moving machinery at the site near the town of Brumadinho, in Minas Gerais state.

State governor Romeu Zema said there was little chance of finding people alive. So far nine people have been confirmed dead.

It is not clear what caused the collapse of the dam, owned by Brazil’s largest mining company, Vale.

The collapse comes just over three years since a dam burst in Mariana, also in Minas Gerais, killing 19 people, in what is considered Brazil’s worst environmental disaster .

 

The dam near Feijão iron ore mine burst its barrier at around 13:00 local time (15:00 GMT) on Friday, flooding another dam down below.

The torrent of sludge cut through the dam’s complex, nearby farms and the neighbourhood where many of the workers live, destroying houses and vehicles.

Dozens of trapped people, many of them covered in mud, had to be evacuated by helicopter as roads were destroyed.

Many other residents have been evacuated as a safety measure.

The company’s chief executive Fabio Schvartsman said only one-third of the roughly 300 workers at the site had been accounted for.

Local firefighters also said the number of missing in the area could be as many as 300.

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