At least 200 missing after severe flooding at Brazilian mine

General view from above of a dam owned by Brazilian miner Vale SA that burst in Brumadinho Brazil

Brazilian police have arrested three Vale employees and two contractors who worked for a German consultancy firm which had recently carried out safety studies concluding the Brumadinho tailings dam was stable.

Vale SA, the world's largest iron ore miner, said it would sacrifice production for safety to avoid another tailings dam failure, after the death toll in the second dam collapse in just over three years was expected to exceed 300.

Brazil's deadly tailings dam collapse is likely to complicate a settlement for a similar disaster less than four years ago at the Samarco iron ore mine, owned jointly by Vale SA and BHP Group, investors said on Tuesday. The job of the third Vale employee was not immediately clear.

Three of the engineers work for Vale, the owner of the mine, and were directly involved in the process of the facility's operating licenses, the prosecutors' office in the state of Minas Gerais said.

Minas Gerais state investigators also issued seven search warrants on suspicion of murder, falsification of documents and environmental crimes, a judge's decision showed.

A Brazilian family is digging through the mud with garden tools and their hands in search of a missing loved one.

At the headquarters for the local mining union in Brumadinho, which lost more than one in 10 members by organisers' count, treasurer Jos Francisco Mateiro, blamed the company and authorities for putting him and his comrades at risk.

The confirmed death toll rose to 60, with 292 people still missing, according to the fire department in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, where the dam is located. He said the number of missing stood at 276.

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The chief of an indigenous community said Tuesday that Brazilian environmental agents warned his community to stop fishing in the river, bathing in it and using its water for the plants they cultivate as food. This is a design that has always been banned in earthquake-prone mining countries such as Chile and Peru because tailings are used to gradually build the embankment walls, making a dam susceptible to damage and cracks. An Ibama official also said during a meeting previous year that some locals were "very anxious, with good reason".

On Monday, a presidential task force contemplated forcing out Vale's management.

The Vale mining company tells the Associated Press there are eight sirens in the area around the dam that failed - but that "the speed in which the event happened made sounding an alarm impossible" on Friday.

That announcement sent the miner's shares higher as analysts said it provided greater clarity on iron ore output going forward.

In a television interview on Saturday CEO Fabio Schvartsman apologised for the incident, however without taking responsibility for it on the company's behalf: "I don't know who is responsible, but you can be sure we'll do our part".

The company was building a membrane to stop the flow of mud now snaking down the Paraopeba River.

"We are fully supporting the investigation", it said.

Sen. Renan Calheiros is calling for Vale's board of directors to step down and Attorney General Raquel Dodge says that Vale executives could be held responsible.

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