A mining dam has collapsed in Brazil, sending a torrent of mud over a nearby community, killing at least seven people and leaving an estimated 200 people missing.
Officials say scores of people are trapped in areas flooded by the river of sludge released by the dam near the town of Brumadinho in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais.
Fire officials say among those missing are 200 employees who were having lunch in the dam’s administrative area when the collapse occurred.
The dam is administered by Brazil’s giant mining company Vale, which confirmed the collapse Friday and said, “the total priority is to protect the lives of employees and inhabitants.”
Television images showed rescue workers in helicopters trying to help people trapped in thick mud. The images also showed damage to homes, vehicles and large areas of farmland.
Authorities have ordered families to evacuate homes in low-lying areas.
The accident recalls a similar disaster from 2015, when another mining dam broke in the same state of Minas Gerais, causing the deaths of 19 people. That dam was also administered by Vale, along with Australian mining company BHP Billiton. The accident from 2015 released millions of tons of toxic iron waste along hundreds of kilometers, causing what is considered Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.