The woman lies deep in the mud, with every spot of your body is covered with reddish-brown mass, you can barely move. Two rescuers, the Wade even up to the torso sunk through the mud, dragging the woman out of the broth, dragging her to the helicopter that hovers a few inches above the misfortune. Two other men heave the almost motionless body through the hatch – with the greatest of effort, like the Video of the news Agency Bloomberg shows. But then you have made it. The woman is saved.

harrowing images of a mud-avalanche from Brazil to the world. Houses, cars, roads and, above all, people – dozens, probably even more than 300 people – has buried in the mud. On Friday, the embankment of a retention basin for the mining tailings of an iron ore mine near the town of Brumadinho broken. Still, the number of death toll rises: 65, it was on Tuesday morning. And almost five Times as many people are unaccounted for.


It is the second huge dam bursts in Brazil in four years. Again, in the state of Minas Gerais. Again in the case of an iron ore mine. And again, Vale is involved in: Brazil raw materials multi number one. The group was already implicated in the Bento-Rodrigues-Disaster in November 2015: Brazil’s biggest environmental disaster.

The disaster raises many questions

at the Time, broke near the municipality of Mariana, the dam of another paragraph pelvis. Those iron ore mine owned by a subsidiary of Vale, and the Australian mining giant BHP Billiton. 19 people died in the mud roll. Countless people lost their livelihoods, entire fish populations have been wiped out, as the toxic broth of submerged adjacent towns and the river Rio Doce on a length of hundreds of kilometres of contaminated. Until today, the sludge is high in some Places, meters. Worse still, the Vale subsidiary has not compensated many victims to this day. Caritas has collected more than 3000 cases; soon it goes to court.

“Mariana nunca mais!” – “Mariana!” So the Mantra of the Manager Fábio Schvartsman was when he took office in may 2017 his Post as CEO of Vale. Now Schvartsman stresses, quite rightly, the cause of the accident on Friday was not the first time.

But the mud avalanche number two raises questions: according to the responsibility and care of the Vale. After the safety of Brazilian dams. According to the reliability of the examiners of the German TÜV Süd, its employees had inspected the dam only a few months ago. And according to the environmental policy of the new Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro. The right winger had promised in the election campaign, to loosen the environmental regulations for the mining and agricultural corporations, and considered, more Land for mining projects.

lax controls

“This tragedy has destroyed our city,” says Brumadinhos mayor Mayor Avimar de Melo Barcelos. Vale had acted “incompetent and negligent”. And the owner will lose the confidence in the world’s largest iron ore producer. On Monday, the price of Vale shares slumped on the stock exchange in Sao Paulo – at times nearly 25 percent. The stock market value, fell the equivalent of more than ten billion euros. Vale billions in compensation payments threaten now.

Brazil’s justice has frozen for as a Deposit the equivalent of 2.6 billion euros in the accounts of the group. Vale announced that it is to set dividend payments and Manager bonuses on ice. In the first nine months of 2018, the group had a profit of 3.2 billion US dollars, with a turnover of 26.8 billion dollars. He benefited massively from rising world market prices for iron ore.

For years, experts Express doubts as to the safety of many mines in Brazil. Because the controls are lax. “The Reviews and approvals of such projects by the state authorities that are often based on documents that the companies themselves submit,” says Claudia Zilla, head of research group America the Stiftung Wissenschaft und politik. “These processes are in many cases not particularly critical, and not particularly thorough.” According to the Brazilian environmental authority, Ibama, the dams of more than 300 tailings basin are uncertain. But the Ibama doesn’t have much to say in Brazil – not under Bolsonaro.

The sirens in Brumadinho, which had remained on Friday at the mud avalanche silent, howling, began on Sunday morning, 3000 residents had to temporarily leave their homes, because experts feared that another dam could break. Later, they could return; the danger seemed to be averted. For the time being.

the role of The TÜV Süd

An “announced tragedy” called Joceli Andrioli, from the environmental organization MAB the misfortune of Brumadinho. For years, he and his comrades – in-arms on Vale shareholder would have warned gatherings in front of the risks, which are caused by a permanent reduction in costs of the group. “You can’t say that the dam came out of the blue” criticizes Andrioli. “Despite all the warnings, Vale has done nothing to fix the risks.”

Vale boss Schvartsman, however, claimed in the Brazilian television: “We have kept 100 percent to the Standards, and that was not enough.” He refers to the investigations conducted by the TÜV Süd. A spokesman for the Munich-based company at the request of the MIRROR: “TÜV Süd has declared on behalf of the Vale and on the basis of the legal requirements (…) a Periodic Review of Dams (document dated 18. June 2018), and Regular Inspection of Dams Safety (a document from the 26. September 2018).” For further information, you could not give because of the ongoing investigation at the moment.

search for Survivors

On the TÜV Süd could possibly get damages. “The suspicion is that there is not has been carefully checked,” said Armin Paasch of Misereor. The charity, which has Long campaigned for the victims of Mariana, calls on the TÜV Süd, to allow an independent investigation into the incident, and to participate, as appropriate, to compensation. And it requires the German policy, imports of Raw materials from such questionable to review projects in Brazil.

Brazil’s President now, his environmental policy?

55.9 percent of the of the Federal Republic of imported iron ore are sourced from Brazil. According to the German automotive industry and other metal processing firms have a responsibility, says Paasch. The Federal government should require the companies to do so by law, to investigate environmental and human rights risks in their value chains carefully.

But what about Bolsonaro? Brazil’s President will now change his environmental policy? Latin America expert Zilla doubts. Although the accident could lead to a critical attitude of the population towards mining projects. But: “Neither Bolsonaro is a different person now, nor will change the priorities of the government. The economic development of Brazil is for this government is the most important. It is higher than environmental or social issues.”

Misereor calls on the EU to put its negotiations with the South American States, Mercosur on a free trade agreement on ice as Bolsonaro keeps to its course. Since vorvergangener week leading Europe parliamentarians from different political groups to stop the talks with Mercosur, the largest free trade agreement in the EU’s history because of Bolsonaros environmental policy. A Veto of the Parliament would put an end to the free trade agreement.

Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.