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Bridges rebuilt after Brazilian dam disaster

Bento Rodrigues Mariana Minas Gerais

Four bridges damaged by the catastrophic collapse of a dam in Brazil in November have been rebuilt.

Mining company Samarco Mineração – a joint venture of Vale SA and BHP Billiton – is rebuilding infrastructure as part of a wide-ranging recovery operation following the disaster in the south-east of the country, which killed at least 17 people.

The Fundão dam burst on 5 November, its contents spilling out and damaging the nearby Santarem and Germano dams.

This sent a sludge of mining tailings down the River Doce, which – according to government agency IBAMA – reached the sea at Linhares by 21 November.

Samarco last week said it had completed the Onça bridge in the city of Barra Longa.

This steel bridge has a concrete deck and is 28m long with a load capacity of 70t.

Three bridges were delivered last month, linking Aguas Claras with Monsenhor Horta; Pedras/Borba with Aguas Claras/Campinas; and Campinas with Barreto.

Samarco said it was working hard to make sure three further bridges were ready by the end of January.

Investigations into the causes of the accident are being carried out by government authorities.

Samarco said it had a team of 700 people working to aid the recovery from the disaster.

The firm is paying 100,000 Brazilian Real (about £17,000) to each family that has victims who have died or gone missing as a result of the incident.

Samarco said on 22 December that 17 fatalities had been confirmed - five members of the community and 12 people working on the dams at the time of the breach. It said two people working on the dams remained unaccounted for as of 22 December.

According to a statement by Samarco last week, the volume of tailings material released during the dam breach was approximately 32M cubic metres. The firm said about 85% of this was retained within 85km of the Fundão dam.


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