Brumadinho dam disaster

Israel helped search for survivors and location of fatalities in the aftermath of the collapse of the Corrego de Feijao iron mine dam near the south eastern town of Brumadinho, Brazil last Friday.

Fifty-eight people were confirmed dead earlier this week with around 300 people missing though authorities expected figures to rise dramatically.

State Governor Romeu Zema declared three days of mourning on Saturday with chances of finding survivors slim. It is not known what caused the dam to collapse.

No one was rescued alive on Sunday, when the first funerals took place.

The 130-strong Israeli team comprised the Home Front Command’s Search and Rescue division, structural engineers, medical staff, fire specialists and underwater commandos.

Colonel Golan Vach is heading the mission, which includes Zaka volunteers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to an Israeli mission over the weekend, a gesture welcomed by Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro on social media.

Israel Ambassador to Brazil Yossi Shelim is in attendance offering support.

“ZAKA has accumulated vast experience in search, rescue and recovery at dozens of mass casualty incidents and terror attacks around the world,” commented Mati Goldstein, ZAKA International Rescue Unit commander.

“With this experience and expertise, we are able to save lives and significantly contribute to the local search and rescue efforts. Our mission will focus on rescuing survivors, and search and recovery of those killed in the disaster.”

ZAKA chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav added, “ZAKA as a UN-recognised international humanitarian volunteer organisation considers it a moral obligation to offer help and assistance to all those in need, regardless of religion, race or creed, when their country is overtaken by disaster.

“This is part of our mission to sanctify the divine name and Israel around the world.”

It is still unclear what causes the dam to burst.

Brazil’s largest mining company, Vale, has confirmed safety procedures were followed.

Though , but 192 people were rescued alive many employees, contractors and residents remain missing presumed dead.

“After 48 hours of work, the chance of finding (someone) alive is very low,” Colonel Eduardo Angelo, heading the search operation told relatives, though the search would continue.

Workers were eating in the site’s cafeteria when the dam burst flooded nearby houses, vehicles and roads. Access was extremely difficult due to up to 15m of mud.

By Leah Waxler