The Queen has sent a message to the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro following a dam failure in Brumadinho on 25 January at an iron ore mine site.
Her Majesty’s message was released yesterday on social media and the Royal Family’s website.
The Queen said:
“Prince Philip and I were deeply saddened to learn of the devastation and loss of life caused by the ruptured dam in Brumadinho.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost loved ones and those whose homes and livelihoods have been affected.
At least 110 people have died following the mine collapse, with a further 238 missing in the town located in the state of Minas Gerais. Rescue operations continue, though hope of finding survivors has dwindled.
The owner of the dam, Vale, said in a press conference that the majority of the victims were employees. The sledge caused by the dam collapse tracked straight for Vale’s cafeteria, where many of the workers were eating lunch. Cars and houses close to the cafeteria were swallowed up as well.
There was briefly a worry that there might be a second dam collapse in the area on 27 January, prompting the evacuation of 24,000 people in nearby communities, though this never happened.
The dam failure has released an estimated 12 million cubic metres of tailings (mining sludge) and the metal will enter the soil, affecting the local ecosystems. Brazil’s National Water Agency says that tailings can pollute at least 300 kilometres of water.
Vale’s assets were frozen amidst calls that they are to blame for the dam failure, and the Mayor of Brumadinho called the company “careless and incompetent” following the tragedy. Brazilian authorities arrested five people they believe to be directly responsible, including two engineers from a German company contracted to inspect the dam.